This is a snappy intro to the link between mental and physical activity—and lots of ideas for getting students moving. I like the way it refers to different mental “states,” and the fact that the mind is more active during a change. I was struck by the fact that during a learning episode we learn best what comes first, second best what comes last, and least what comes in the middle. What comes in the middle of a traditional class period is usually what is the most important!
Depending upon how fascinated you are with these ideas for incorporating a little action into your classroom, you may want to either skim this resource or slow down and read it carefully. It’s up to date, thorough, and concludes with a section on Practical Suggestions, beginning with: “Teachers who insist that students remain seated during the entire class period are not promoting optimal conditions for learning.”
Four Corners is great for generating thought and discussion about controversial issues. There are three things about this version that I would especially recommend: 1) distribute note cards for students to jot down their reasons for their corner of choice before they go to that corner; 2) have each group select a spokesperson to summarize and report their conclusions; and 3) make time at the end for students to question members of the groups other than their own.
Inside-Outside Circle is a little complicated to explain to students the first few times. Here is a downloadable PowerPoint designed to help explain the activity to students. If your classroom is crowded, student pairs don’t have to stand in a circle. The pairs-circle can become a stretched-out line with students’ desks in pairs. This resource recommends the activity primarily for test review, but I also like it for activating prior knowledge prior to a lesson.
You can use any traditional worksheet for Find Someone Who. I love that this link includes a step-by-step PowerPoint explanation that is designed to play for students. Students should be working in pairs, moving from partner to partner throughout the entire activity.
Numbered Heads Together is a great way to get everyone involved in reviewing fact type information. Everyone responds in their group to every question, and all students will get called on to give their answer in front of the class, and when they are called on, chances are very good that they will know the correct answer—especially if you have used Take A Stand to form heterogeneous groups for the topic of the day.
There are lots of reasons for grouping students heterogeneously. Take A Stand is one of my favorite ways to quickly form heterogeneous groups—by having them literally as well as figuratively taking a stand. Now, if you have them count off by the number of groups to be formed, every group will be heterogeneous for the topic of the day. Each group will have members from the beginning, middle, and end of the line.
This item is directed to teaching English language learners, but it is equally applicable to all learners. I love the “thought experiment” about classroom instruction: Classrooms A, B, and C, and while Classrooms A and B fail, while Classroom C succeeds. Cooperative Structures such as those promoted by Spencer Kagan are designed to ensure that more students are actively participating, and that all students participate equally.