Some time ago, I discovered a cure for grumpiness—my own, at least. I discovered that when I start feeling cranky and out of sorts, it's usually because I haven't been doing anything creative. If I want to feel better, I sit down and write some song lyrics or doodle designs for new kitchen curtains or write a funny e-mail to a friend.
It works. My grumpiness disappears.
The same approach can cure classroom grumpiness. Kids become cranky and out-of-sorts when they are just receiving information passively. Giving them a creative challenge, no matter how simple, can inject life into the classroom. When I was teaching, for example, students' eyes glazed over whenever I had to go anywhere near the subject of "grammar." Having to go through a paragraph and underline the verbs did not exactly thrill them. However, they became much more involved if I asked them to write an entire paragraph using only verbs that begin with "s" or a whole story with verbs beginning with each successive letter of the alphabet (Bruno ate an entire pizza and then barfed. His friends came to his aid and dragged him to the couch...etc.)
Kids do respond to assignments that involve imagination—their own.