It’s summer, and kids are ready to get moving! Sometimes a brisk walk is not enough, and you need to keep their bodies busy. After all, adolescents are energetic and physical movement is a must! So, what’s the solution? Active learning! In active learning, students engage intellectually, socially, and physically. And we all know, the more engaged they are, the more likely they are to remember what they have learned!
Stay Standing . . . or Make a Move!
Two potential possibilities for you to try out a time or two are “Four Corners” and “Stand If”. “Four Corners” keeps your kids’ bodies (and mouths!) moving. You can even use it to quickly quiz them, labelling your corners with multiple choice letters!
“Stand If” can similarly be used to informally assess your crew’s understanding of podcast content. Rethink your discussion content-based questions slightly, so that the answer choices would be “yes” and “no” only. Then let the students know they should stand if “yes” and sit if “no” and proceed. Warning: It could be an adventure if their sitting option does not have chairs available—make sure they space themselves, so you don’t end up with a people pile!
Another take on “Stand If”, especially great for open-ended questions inciting opinions, would be to create a kind of human thermometer. Using masking tape, mark a line on the floor, with brightly colored cards at either end, one labeled “strongly agree” and the other labeled “strongly disagree” (or make signs with two statements of differing opinions), and have the students place themselves where their opinion falls on the continuum.
Statements to use might be things like the following:
- It is important to be different. – Carl Sandburg (4-#24, Combined-#35)
- You should approach things with patience and take your time.
You should approach things boldly and confidently. – Hot Springs and Geysers (4-#73, Combined-#137)
- Strong ambition can be good.
Strong ambition can be bad. – The Gold Rush (5-#43, Combined-#108)
- Failure is an important part of success. – Thomas Edison (5-#16, Combined-#162)
Allow each to share his or her perspective. Maybe even allow slight shifting as they listen to what others have to say. When you are done, take a few moments so that students can summarize what’s been said!
Crowd-Pleasing Projects and Engaging Experiments
What more can you do? The possibilities abound! Listening to a science podcast? Extend the lesson with an experiment. Learning about Renaissance artists? Combine your podcast with a creative activity! Have your kids compose mini-posters illustrating each podcast to which you’ve listened and display them on a clothesline that spans the space. It will help them keep the content in mind by keeping it in view!
Games, Models, and Manipulatives
Rainy day? Hands-on is always a hit. From a simple beach ball activity the day after the walk to the incorporation of other options, it’s always great to mix things up!
Why not sit your students in a circle and test their memory? Go around the circle recounting vocabulary and facts from the podcast until the participants run out of steam . . . or information to share! Or try a Twenty Questions game to remind your students of previous podcast topics.
It might also be fun to play a bit of baseball. Split your group into two teams and establish two baseball diamonds, making the bases with construction paper, throw pillows, you name it! Then ask questions about the podcast, and, as they answer correctly, have them advance. The team with the most points when you run out of questions (or the first team to earn a run!) is the winner!
These Tips Transition to the Classroom Too!
It’s easy to incorporate these ideas in the classroom come fall. Beyond those mentioned above, there are plenty of other ways to stay active post-walk.
Looking for a resource to keep close by? Check out Active Learning in the Middle Grades Classroom, for an array of activities to keep those middle grades (and beyond!) moving.