Classroom Activities

Classroom Activities


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Each classroom activity contains a wide range of source material and several questions that will help students to develop the ability to interpret and evaluate information.

We have also provided a commentary on the questions that should be of help to the student and teacher. At the bottom of each page you will find a link to download the activity in a word document.

The classroom activities are based on National Curriculum History (11-14 years), GCSE (14-16 years) and A/S & A/2 (16-18 years).

Please let us know about areas of the curriculum you would like us to cover: [email protected]

We have plans to produce a large number of classroom activities over the next few months. This will include resources for GCSE, AS/A2 and for university students.

AW01 Codes and Codebreaking (Answer Commentary)

NOR1 The Battle of Hastings (Answer Commentary)

NOR2 William the Conqueror (Answer Commentary)

NOR3 The Feudal System (Answer Commentary)

NOR4 The Domesday Survey (Answer Commentary)

NOR5 Thomas Becket and Henry II (Answer Commentary)

NOR6 Why was Thomas Becket Murdered? (Answer Commentary)

NOR7 Illuminated Manuscripts in the Middle Ages (Answer Commentary)

NOR8 King Harold II and Stamford Bridge (Answer Commentary)

NOR9 Disease in the 14th Century (Answer Commentary)

NOR10 Contemporary Accounts of the Black Death (Answer Commentary)

NOR11 The Medieval Village Economy (Answer Commentary)

NOR12 Women and Medieval Work (Answer Commentary)

NOR13 The Growth of Female Literacy in the Middle Ages (Answer Commentary)

N0R14 Wandering Minstrels in the Middle Ages (Answer Commentary)

NOR15 Christine de Pizan: A Feminist Historian (Answer Commentary)

NOR16 Henry II: An Assessment (Answer Commentary)

NOR17 The Life and Death of Richard the Lionheart (Answer Commentary)

NOR18 Medieval and Modern Historians on King John (Answer Commentary)

NOR19 King John and the Magna Carta (Answer Commentary)

NOR20 Medieval Historians and John Ball (Answer Commentary)

NOR21 The Peasants' Revolt (Answer Commentary)

NOR22 Death of Wat Tyler (Answer Commentary)

NOR23 Taxation in the Middle Ages (Answer Commentary)

YALD Yalding: Medieval Village Project (Differentiation)

TEU1 Poverty in Tudor England (Answer Commentary)

TEU2 Why did Queen Elizabeth not get married? (Answer Commentary)

TEU3 Henry VIII (Answer Commentary)

TEU4 Francis Walsingham - Codes & Codebreaking (Answer Commentary)

TEU5 Mary Tudor and Heretics (Answer Commentary)

TEU6 Sir Thomas More: Saint or Sinner? (Answer Commentary)

TEU7 Hans Holbein's Art and Religious Propaganda (Answer Commentary)

TEU8 Hans Holbein and Henry VIII (Answer Commentary)

TEU9 Anne Askew – Burnt at the Stake (Answer Commentary)

TE10 Joan Bocher - Anabaptist (Answer Commentary)

TE11 Dissolution of the Monasteries (Answer Commentary)

TE12 Pilgrimage of Grace (Answer Commentary)

TE13 Robert Aske (Answer Commentary)

TE14 Execution of Margaret Cheyney (Answer Commentary)

TE15 Elizabeth Barton and Henry VIII (Answer Commentary)

TE16 Why were women hostile to Henry VIII's marriage to Anne Boleyn? (Answer Commentary)

TE17 1517 May Day Riots: How do historians know what happened? (Answer Commentary)

TE18 Anne Boleyn - Religious Reformer (Answer Commentary)

TE19 Did Anne Boleyn have six fingers on her right hand? A Study in Catholic Propaganda (Answer Commentary)

TE20 Henry VII: A Wise or Wicked Ruler? (Answer Commentary)

TE21 The Marriage of Prince Arthur and Catherine of Aragon (Answer Commentary)

TE22 Henry VIII: Catherine of Aragon or Anne Boleyn? (Answer Commentary)

TE23 Was Henry VIII's son, Henry FitzRoy, murdered? (Answer Commentary)

TE24 Cardinal Thomas Wolsey (Answer Commentary)

TE25 Martin Luther and the Reformation (Answer Commentary)

TE26 Martin Luther and Thomas Müntzer (Answer Commentary)

TE27 Martin Luther and Hitler's Anti-Semitism (Answer Commentary)

TE28 Catherine Parr and Women's Rights (Answer Commentary)

TE29 Was Queen Catherine Howard guilty of treason? (Answer Commentary)

TE30 Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves (Answer Commentary)

TE31 Historians and Novelists on Thomas Cromwell (Answer Commentary)

TE32 Women, Politics and Henry VIII (Answer Commentary)

STU1 The Gunpowder Plot (Answer Commentary)

ECW1 Military Tactics in the English Civil War (Answer Commentary)

ECW2 Women in the English Civil War (Answer Commentary)

ECW3 Portraits of Oliver Cromwell (Answer Commentary)

ECW4 Execution of King Charles I (Answer Commentary)

ECW5 John Lilburne and the Levellers (Answer Commentary)

ECW6: Gerrard Winstanley the Failed Digger Revolution (Answer Commentary)

ECW7: Oliver Cromwell in Ireland (Answer Commentary)

IR01 Child Labour Simulation (Teacher Notes)

IR02 Richard Arkwright and the Factory System (Answer Commentary)

IR03 Robert Owen and New Lanark (Answer Commentary)

IR04 James Watt and Steam Power (Answer Commentary)

IR05 The Domestic System (Answer Commentary)

IR06 The Luddites: 1775-1825 (Answer Commentary)

IR07 The Plight of the Handloom Weavers (Answer Commentary)

IR08 Road Transport and the Industrial Revolution (Answer Commentary)

IR09 Canal Mania (Answer Commentary)

IR10 Early Development of the Railways (Answer Commentary)

IR11 Health Problems in Industrial Towns (Answer Commentary)

IR12 Public Health Reform in the 19th century (Answer Commentary)

IR13 The Chartists (Answer Commentary)

IR14 Women and the Chartist Movement (Answer Commentary)

IR15 1832 Reform Act and the House of Lords (Answer Commentary)

IR16 Benjamin Disraeli and the 1867 Reform Act (Answer Commentary)

IR17 William Gladstone and the 1884 Reform Act (Answer Commentary)

IR18 The Coal Industry: 1600-1925 (Answer Commentary)

IR19 Women in the Coalmines (Answer Commentary)

IR20 Child Labour in the Collieries (Answer Commentary)

IR21 The Coal Industry: 1914-1921 (Answer Commentary)

IR22 The Outbreak of the General Strike (Answer Commentary)

IR23 The 1926 General Strike and the Defeat of the Miners (Answer Commentary)

RRU1 Russian Revolution Simmulation

RRU2 Bloody Sunday (Answer Commentary)

RRU3 1905 Russian Revolution (Answer Commentary)

RRU4 Russia and the First World War (Answer Commentary)

RRU5 The Life and Death of Rasputin (Answer Commentary)

RRU6 The Abdication of Tsar Nicholas II (Answer Commentary)

RRU7 The Provisional Government (Answer Commentary)

RRU8 The Kornilov Revolt (Answer Commentary)

RRU9 The Bolsheviks (Answer Commentary)

RRU10 The Bolshevik Revolution (Answer Commentary)

Walter Tull: Britain's First Black Officer (Answer Commentary)

Football and the First World War (Answer Commentary)

Football on the Western Front (Answer Commentary)

Käthe Kollwitz: German Artist in the First World War (Answer Commentary)

American Artists and the First World War (Answer Commentary)

Sinking of the Lusitania (Answer Commentary)

The United States: 1920-1940

Economic Prosperity in the United States: 1919-1929 (Answer Commentary)

Women in the United States in the 1920s (Answer Commentary)

Volstead Act and Prohibition (Answer Commentary)

The Ku Klux Klan (Answer Commentary)

The Bonus Marchers (Answer Commentary)

The Wall Street Crash (Answer Commentary)

Unemployment in the United States: 1928-1933 (Answer Commentary)

The Great Depression (Answer Commentary)

RHU1 Adolf Hitler's Early Life (Answer Commentary)

RHU2 The Assassination of Reinhard Heydrich (Answer Commentary)

RHU3 Heinrich Himmler and the SS (Answer Commentary)

RHU4 The Last Days of Adolf Hitler (Answer Commentary)

RHU5 Trade Unions in Nazi Germany (Answer Commentary)

RHU6 Adolf Hitler v John Heartfield (Answer Commentary)

RHU7 Hitler's Volkswagen (The People's Car) (Answer Commentary)

RHU8 Women in Nazi Germany (Answer Commentary)

RHU9 German League of Girls (Answer Commentary)

RHU10 Kristallnacht (Answer Commentary)

RHU11 The Political Development of Sophie Scholl (Answer Commentary)

RHU12 The White Rose Anti-Nazi Group (Answer Commentary)

RHU13 The Hitler Youth (Answer Commentary)

RHU14 Night of the Long Knives (Answer Commentary)

RHU15 British Newspapers and Adolf Hitler (Answer Commentary)

RHU16 An Assessment of the Nazi-Soviet Pact (Answer Commentary)

RHU17 Lord Rothermere, Daily Mail and Adolf Hitler (Answer Commentary)

RHU18 Adolf Hitler and the Beer Hall Putsch (Answer Commentary)

RHU19 Adolf Hitler and the First World War (Answer Commentary)

RHU20 Adolf Hitler and the German Workers' Party (Answer Commentary)

RHU21 Adolf Hitler the Orator (Answer Commentary)

RHU22 Sturmabteilung (SA) (Answer Commentary)

RHU23 Who Set Fire to the Reichstag? (Answer Commentary)

RHU24 Appeasement (Answer Commentary)

2WU1 D-Day (Answer Commentary)

2WU2 Home Front Simulation (Answer Commentary)

2WU3 Alan Turing - School Student (Answer Commentary)


20 interactive teaching activities for in the interactive classroom

by Ruben Knapen &mdash Jun 13, 2018

Interactive teaching is all about instructing the students in a way they are actively involved with their learning process. There are different ways to create an involvement like this. Most of the time it’s through

  • teacher-student interaction
  • student-student interaction
  • the use of audio, visuals, video
  • hands-on demonstrations and exercises

You encourage your students to be active members of your class, thinking on their own, using their brains, resulting in long-term memory retention. Not only the students' knowledge will improve, but their interest, strength, knowledge, team spirit and freedom of expression will increase as well.

In this blog post, I will talk about the use of interactive methods for teaching, encouraging more dedication towards the lesson material. We will see some interactive teaching tools, interactive teaching ideas, and interactive teaching games.
Not only will I talk about the use of interactive methods of teaching, but I’ll also give you some examples of methods used in the present classroom as well.

Ready? Here are some of the most effective ways to engage your pupils!


Native Americans in US, Canada, and the Far North

Northeast Woodland Tribes and Nations - The Northeast Woodlands include all five great lakes as well as the Finger Lakes and the Saint Lawrence River. Come explore the 3 sisters, longhouses, village life, the League of Nations, sacred trees, snowsnake games, wampum, the arrowmaker, dream catchers, night messages, the game of sep and more. Special Sections: Iroquois Nation, Ojibwa/Chippewa, The Lenape Indians. Read two myths: Wise Owl and The Invisible Warrior.

Southeast Woodland Tribes and Nations - The Indians of the Southeast were considered members of the Woodland Indians. The people believed in many deities, and prayed in song and dance for guidance. Explore the darkening land, battle techniques, clans and marriage, law and order, and more. Travel the Trail of Tears. Meet the Muscogee (Creek), Chickasaw, Choctaw, Mississippians, Seminole Indians and Cherokee Indians.

Plains Indians - What was life like in what is now the Great Plains region of the United States? Some tribes wandered the plains in search of foods. Others settled down and grew crops. They spoke different languages. Why was the buffalo so important? What different did horses make? What was coup counting? Who was Clever Coyote? Meet the Blackfoot, Cheyenne, Comanche, Pawnee, and Sioux Nation.

Southwest Indians - Pueblo is not the name of a tribe. It is a Spanish word for village. The Pueblo People are the decedents of the Anasazi People. The Navajo and the Apache arrived in the southwest in the 1300s. They both raided the peaceful Pueblo tribes for food and other goods. Who were the Devil Dancers? Why are blue stones important? What is a wickiup? Who was Child of Water?

Pacific Coastal Northwest Indians - What made some of the Pacific Northwest Indian tribes "rich" in ancient times? Why were woven mats so important? How did totem poles get started? What was life like in the longhouse? What were money blankets and coppers? How did the fur trade work? How did Raven Steal Crow's Potlatch?

Inland Plateau People - About 10,000 years ago, different tribes of Indians settled in the Northwest Inland Plateau region of the United States and Canada, located between two huge mountain ranges - the Rockies and the Cascades. The Plateau stretches from BC British Columbia all the way down to nearly Texas. Each village was independent, and each had a democratic system of government. They were deeply religious and believed spirits could be found everything - in both living and non-living things. Meet the Nez Perce

California Indians - The Far West was a land of great diversity. Death Valley and Mount Whitney are the highest and lowest points in the United States. They are within sight of each other. Tribes living in what would become California were as different as their landscape.

Native Americans of the Far North: What trick did the Kutchin people use to catch their enemies? How did these early people stop ghosts from entering their homes? Why was the shaman so powerful? What is a finger mask? Play games! See and hear an old Inuit myth! Enter the mystical world of the people who lived in the far north in olden times. Algonquian/Cree, Athapascan/Kutchin, Central Canada, Inuit, The Shaman


Classroom Activities: Making Social Studies Come Alive With Middle Schoolers

Are more and more students looking a little bored and bleary-eyed during history and geography lessons lately? As a first-year teacher, it's easy to become so focused on covering all the necessary content that you overlook opportunities to bring social studies to life. These easy-to-do, hands-on activities will help you put a quick end to social studies doldrums.

Mapping Your Way From Home Sweet Home

After teaching about map symbols and directions, invite to students create a map showing the route from their home to school. A fun motivator is to tell students that they have won a contest but the only way to receive their prize is to provide the delivery service with a clear and accurate map to their home. Maps should be neat, easy to read, and contain proper map symbols, with a key and compass rose. Let them know that landmarks will help the driver make a speedy delivery. Most middle school students will be familiar with the route from home to school. However, if you give students advance notice about the project or a few days to complete in class, then they will be better able to recall details that would enhance their maps. When the maps are completed, you may want to "deliver" students some type of prize or reward.

Three Cheers for Sports Teams!

This activity gives students a chance to show off sports knowledge and geography skills. Organize students into groups and provide them with a list of sports teams. The list should include only the nickname of the team, for example: Dolphins, Red Sox, Mariners. The students have to first figure out what city the team is from, and then locate the city on a map. As an additional challenge have students explain how the team name relates to the geography, culture, or history of its home town. If your community is not already home to a major league team, ask students to imagine that it soon will be. Have students think of appropriate names for the team based on geographical, cultural, or historical information. Students may also pick other cities without professional sports teams and think up names for them too.

Travel Time Brochures

One way to energize teaching about U.S. cities or countries around the world is to have students look at them as travel destinations. The first step is to bring in examples of travel brochures (readily available at most travel agencies, AAA, and tourist bureaus) and discuss what makes them interesting, exciting, and informative. Then, based on places you have been teaching about, have individual students or student groups create travel brochures for a particular location. Students should include at least three reasons why this place might attract visitors and use a simple tri-fold format. Students can illustrate their brochures with drawings or pictures from magazines or the internet.

Person of the Year

In this activity, students become journalists for a famous news magazine. Their assignment is to select a "Person of the Year" for the next issue. As journalists, they need to convince their editor-in-chief that the person they have selected is deserving of this title. Students write a brief article that explains their choice based on research. Students should also design a magazine cover honoring this person. When the projects are complete, consider having students give oral presentations and then take a class vote to decide which person they learned about is deserving of the title "Most Outstanding Person of the Year."

People Poems

Have students write poems about people or places they have been learning about in social studies. The poem can be in the form of an acrostic, in which the first letter of each line begins with a letter of the person's name. The lines consist of words or phrases describing the person's characteristics. Another type of poem is the diamante, which takes its name from the diamond-shaped form it makes. Here's the formula:

person's name
two adjectives to describe the person
three "ing" words related to the subject
four nouns that describe the person
three verbs that tell how the person acted or felt
two adjectives to describe the person
person's last name

These ideas were adapted from Making Social Studies Come Alive! by Marilyn Kretzer, Marleine Slobin, and Madella Williams (© 1996, Scholastic).


10 Great Warm Up Activities For The Classroom

Warm up strategies for our classroom are an excellent teaching tool! We all know that starting the lesson with a good hook activity sets us up for a better chance of success. It captivates the students and draws them into the lesson - giving us the opportunity to "do our thing"! Below I have put together a few warm ups that my MAT professor Dr Cynthia Alby gave us as students - thanks Cynthia!

The Evocative

This is done by giving the students an evocative quotation, photo, scenario or song. Then ask a question that requires the group or learning team to think it through and give you their best answer.

You'd be suprised at what people can come up with, and more so, how wrong they can often be. The evocative warm up strategy helps you, the teacher to understand any misconceptions or preconceptions that the students may have about the subject. Knowing what the students preconceptions are tells us where they are now and gives us an idea of how we can get them where we want them to be.

Most importantly, in my opinion, it lets you know how to target the lesson, after all, it makes no sense to teach them what they are already know (unless you are deliberately using repetition) - they would just get bored.

Data Manipulation

"A picture is worth a thousand words", so with this strategy we ask the students to draw a diagram of what they currently understand about the subject or concept. The artist in them may come to light, or like me, you might just get the best of my stick figures! Either way, you are able to determine any preconceptions or misconceptions that students may have as well as who has them. The best part is that it gets the students interested enough in the subject - giving you, the teacher a great launching pad to begin the lesson.

Pre-Quiz

A quiz (even if it's ungraded) always gets the attention of students. To make it more interesting, it can be done through sign language, with as a picture on construction paper, with white boards or even through poetry or rapping! Whatever it takes to get them involved and interested and of course, learning And Reading!! This, like the previous strategies, highlights any preconceptions or misconceptions that students may have, helps us target our teaching to a level that will keep them interested and most importantly it can get them interested.

Wordsplash

I use this one pretty often as it doubles up as a vocabulary builder. Students are given a list of words relating to the the topic that you about to teach and asked to guess how these words relate to the topic at hand. Try to choose words that they have never heard of to get them thinking! I remember Cynthia illustrated this by giving us words that related to bead making (a hobby of hers). Needless to say that we were totally clueless but intrigued. We also developed an interest in bead making for a little while - the very focus of this warm up.

Simulation

Some people learn by doing - and that is what simulation is all about. Speaking of bead making, Cynthia came equipped to that class with blow torch, goggles, etc. While she was wise enough not to let us experiment with the bead making process, she was kind enough to demonstrate it. In her own words, simulation is a great lab for skills.

If simulations might be too dangerous or even inappropriate for the classroom, role playing might be a fun way to use this strategy. This warm up targets several different learning styles

Guessing Game

This is like "Ask the Audience" in Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, only if you have some objects you can hold them up and ask what they might be used for, or what the next course of action would be, or even where the items may belong in the process of bead making. There is nothing better than seeing the hands fly up or hearing multiple voices calling out the answers to your questions. Again, it gets students interested and lets you, the teacher know how much they know (or don't know). Sometimes it can be quite humorous!

Opinionnaire

Much like a pre-quiz, this is an assessment of how students think about a certain subject. This can really bring out any misconceptions! I used this in a finance class and it was amazing that the students perception of the banking system was totally false and definitely unrealistic. The good thing, however was that we were able to correct the misconceptions only after we knew that they existed and the opinionnaire was a great way to find this out.

Free Association

This is when the teacher calls out a word or a phrase and the students can either call out a word or sign the word that first comes to mind. For example in a health class a teacher may call out "fast food" and the students may call out orsign "McDonalds". This strategy stimulates the students to think about the topic in question and generates interest among the students. In other words, it works both as a warm up and a hook!

Likert Scale Line Up

I found this warm up activity useful when I taught the last class of the day. I would get everyone moving and the focus would be on lining students up based on how strongly they agree or disagree with a statement or subject. Usually the more controversial the subject, the more enthusiastic the response. Also, it would get students discussing the subject, as they would need to know to what extent their classmates agree or disagree. A great way to start a lesson!

Chalk Talk

This is my all time favorite warm up. It is extremely easy to do and more to the point, the focus is on the students! We start off by writing a word or a phrase on the board. The next step is to have a student co-ordinate his or her colleagues as they walk up to the board. They can either come up in small groups or individually to write on the board anything related to the word or phrase in question. It gets the students thinking and you can use their own ideas to launch the lesson. An excellent hook!


So there you have it! Ten great ways to warm up your students and tickle their imagination. Have fun using them - I certainly do.


Classroom Activities

Hernán De Soto Students work on a choice board to explore the reaches of the explorations of Hernán De Soto in Latin American and in the United States. It would be appropriate for elementary school social studies explorers’ study. It would also be appropriate for ESOL or Spanish students. Language learners at the Intermediate-Low proficiency level would be able to complete the tasks.

RAFT is a writing strategy that helps students understand their roles as writers, the audience they will address, the varied formats for writing, and the topic they’ll be writing about.
RAFT – De Soto | RAFT – 1810-1860

Native Leaders The task to identify and understand the sequence of events for two indigenous leaders using digital story telling tools to capture the main ideas and a Venn Diagram to synthesize the information. It would be useful for very young learners because the dialogue is limited. It is appropriate for low level ESOL/Spanish students such as Novice-Mid.

The Leadership Debate Students take on different roles in a combination of a skit/role play/debate to express ideas about two different leaders from a variety of perspectives. The debate would be appropriate for middle grades social studies examining independence movements. It would also be suitable for ESOL/Spanish students at the Intermediate-mid proficiency level with appropriate preparation or more spontaneous at a higher level such as an Advanced Placement Cultural Comparison.

The Tribes Students collect data and examine two tribes, one from the United States and one from Latin America. Students create a book with a comparison of the two groups based on student-selected information to illustrate and teach to younger students. This activity would be appropriate for students studying Native American or Latin American groups in social studies. It is also appropriate for ESOL/Spanish students of Intermediate-mid proficiency.

1860-1865 Students choose activities that explore the experience of the state and people of Tennessee during the Civil War. These activities would be appropriate for middle school social studies classes or high school social studies classes. The history/geography activity would be appropriate for ESOL students or advanced elementary students.

Research Activity 1868-1898 Students work on an investigative project on the first 3 main universities in Tennessee: Fisk University, Vanderbilt University and Blount College. After extensive investigation on the Internet and possibly by visiting the schools in person, students will create a compare and contrast diagram and present it to an audience (teacher or peers). It would be appropriate for middle school or high school social studies or language arts class. It would also be appropriate for ESOL or Spanish students. Language learners at the Intermediate-Low proficiency level would be able to complete the tasks if resources can be found in Spanish.

1868-1939 Storyboard Activity Students will research the rise and fall of one of the many dictators and presidents of South America/Central America. Students will then create a storyboard of the timeline using digital storytelling tools. Students can also turn the researched information into a fable or moral story using hand-written or digital format.It would be appropriate for middle school or high school social studies or language arts class. It would also be appropriate for ESOL or Spanish students. Language learners at the Intermediate-Low proficiency level would be able to complete the tasks if resources can be found in Spanish.

Research Activity 1900-1939 Students research the political and societal positions of the countries of Spain, Mexico, the countries of Latin America and the countries of South America before and during World World I. Students can then transfer their researched knowledge to a written essay or an oral presentation. It would be appropriate for middle school or high school social studies or language arts class. It would also be appropriate for ESOL or Spanish students. Language learners at the Intermediate-Low proficiency level would be able to complete the tasks if resources can be found in Spanish.

1940-1970 Research, presentational and interpersonal activities (3) available during this time period. These would be appropriate for elementary school or middle school social studies explorers’ study or language arts class. It would also be appropriate for ESOL or Spanish students. Language learners at the Intermediate-Low proficiency level would be able to complete the tasks.

Presentational Activity 1970-2000 Students research the biography and poems of Pablo Neruda. In groups of 2-3 they choose a poem to research, translate, memorize and present. Presentations can be live or use digital media to record. (Garageband, Audacity, etc.) It would be appropriate for middle school or high school social studies or language arts class. It would also be appropriate for ESOL or Spanish students. Language learners at the Intermediate-Low proficiency level would be able to complete the tasks if resources can be found in Spanish.

Interpersonal writing activity Students research and read newspaper and blog account of the 2010 floods in Nashville. They then write the diary of a student their age on the day of the floods and combine them with their classmates into an EverNote portfolio. It would be appropriate for middle school or high school social studies or language arts class. It would also be appropriate for ESOL or Spanish students. Language learners at the Intermediate-Low proficiency level would be able to complete the tasks if resources can be found in Spanish.


End-of-class activities

Elevator pitch

Knowing how to summarize your thoughts in a concise and thoughtful manner is a true 21st-century skill. At the end of class, ask students to sum up the day’s learning in a 30- to 60-second elevator pitch. Make sure to include the context and importance of the day’s learning and how it may fit into the larger scope of the class’ learning.

Draw it

Cool down from the intensity of class and ask students to draw a few concepts taught in the day’s lesson. Ask them to draw a summary of the lesson for someone who didn’t participate in the learning that day. Have more time? Try it Pictionary-style and get kids trying to guess what lesson concept their classmates are drawing.

Predict it

This is a fun way to get students reflective about the day’s learning while getting amped up for where you might be guiding them tomorrow. Ask students to predict tomorrow’s lesson either in writing or verbally in a closing discussion. Another idea is for students to use sticky notes to add their guesses to a prediction board. The next day, see who was right in order to help students understand how learning flows and connects from one day to the next.

Schmooze it

Have students stand up and schmooze! Play some music and have students walk around until you stop it. When you press pause, whoever they’re standing next to is their new “friend” at a party. They should briefly explain what they learned in class that day to the “stranger.” You can even offer conversation starters like: “Did you know?” or “I just found out that…” When the music starts up again, they should move on and “meet” someone else. Deepen the experience by providing a different prompt each round.

Explain it

The National Association of Elementary School Principals shares this fun method for getting kids to summarize and explain their learning at the end of class. “This can be done individually, with a partner, or in small groups. Students get a sealed envelope that contains a slip of paper with a topic, vocabulary word, or problem written on it. Students then have to explain, describe, or solve the contents of the envelope.”

Whip it

A quick way to encourage participation from all students and gauge understanding of the day’s topics is the Whip Around. “To implement this wraparound strategy, you pose a question or prompt to the class and then have each student share aloud their quick response,” according to Facing History’s Teaching Strategies Library. “This strategy provides an efficient way for all students in a classroom to share their ideas about a question, topic, or text, revealing common themes and ideas in students’ thinking. Wraparound activities can also be provocative discussion starters.”

Tweet it

Working with older kids? Encourage responsible use of social media and concise summations of learning by asking students to discuss their class topics in a daily tweet. Use a predetermined class hashtag and encourage students to tag sources and experts to build a learning network.

Circle it

Make learning come full circle — literally — by engaging in end-of-class circle talks. In a reflection circle, “the teacher cues students to reflect on their learning for the day or to set goals for the next day. This can be as simple as going around the circle to answer an open-ended question such as, “What’s one thing you want to work on tomorrow?” It might also be an activity that involves reflective thinking,” according to The Responsive Classroom, which shares great ideas on end-of-class circle practices.

Review it

A simple yet effective closing activity is the quick review. Encourage students to share their own review of the day either with each other or together as a class. “Choose a few students and give each 60 seconds to speak about something you’ve covered that day….older learners may even give a “how to” lesson they may also summarize a story they heard,” shares The Busy Teacher. “To motivate students to speak, you may choose to reward the student who says the most, or includes the most information, with a reward sticker.”


JIGSAW IN 10 EASY STEPS

The jigsaw classroom is very simple to use. If you’re a teacher, just follow these steps:

STEP ONE

Divide students into 5- or 6-person jigsaw groups.

The groups should be diverse in terms of gender, ethnicity, race, and ability.

STEP TWO

Appoint one student from each group as the leader.

Initially, this person should be the most mature student in the group.

STEP ONE

Divide students into 5- or 6-person jigsaw groups.

The groups should be diverse in terms of gender, ethnicity, race, and ability.

STEP TWO

Appoint one student from each group as the leader.

Initially, this person should be the most mature student in the group.

STEP THREE

Divide the day’s lesson into 5-6 segments.

For example, if you want history students to learn about Eleanor Roosevelt, you might divide a short biography of her into stand-alone segments on: (1) Her childhood, (2) Her family life with Franklin and their children, (3) Her life after Franklin contracted polio, (4) Her work in the White House as First Lady, and (5) Her life and work after Franklin's death.

STEP FOUR

Assign each student to learn one segment.

Make sure students have direct access only to their own segment.

STEP THREE

Divide the day’s lesson into 5-6 segments.

For example, if you want history students to learn about Eleanor Roosevelt, you might divide a short biography of her into stand-alone segments on: (1) Her childhood, (2) Her family life with Franklin and their children, (3) Her life after Franklin contracted polio, (4) Her work in the White House as First Lady, and (5) Her life and work after Franklin's death.

STEP FOUR

Assign each student to learn one segment.

Make sure students have direct access only to their own segment.

STEP FIVE

Give students time to read over their segment at least twice and become familiar with it.

There is no need for them to memorize it.

STEP SIX

Form temporary “expert groups” by having one student from each jigsaw group join other students assigned to the same segment.

Give students in these expert groups time to discuss the main points of their segment and to rehearse the presentations they will make to their jigsaw group.

STEP FIVE

Give students time to read over their segment at least twice and become familiar with it.

There is no need for them to memorize it.

STEP SIX

Form temporary “expert groups” by having one student from each jigsaw group join other students assigned to the same segment.

Give students in these expert groups time to discuss the main points of their segment and to rehearse the presentations they will make to their jigsaw group.

STEP SEVEN

Bring the students back into their jigsaw groups.

STEP EIGHT

Ask each student to present her or his segment to the group.

Encourage others in the group to ask questions for clarification.

STEP SEVEN

Bring the students back into their jigsaw groups.

STEP EIGHT

Ask each student to present her or his segment to the group.

Encourage others in the group to ask questions for clarification.

STEP NINE

Float from group to group, observing the process.

If any group is having trouble (e.g., a member is dominating or disruptive), make an appropriate intervention. Eventually, it's best for the group leader to handle this task. Leaders can be trained by whispering an instruction on how to intervene, until the leader gets the hang of it.

STEP TEN

At the end of the session, give a quiz on the material.

Students quickly come to realize that these sessions are not just fun and games but really count.

STEP NINE

Float from group to group, observing the process.

If any group is having trouble (e.g., a member is dominating or disruptive), make an appropriate intervention. Eventually, it's best for the group leader to handle this task. Leaders can be trained by whispering an instruction on how to intervene, until the leader gets the hang of it.

STEP TEN

At the end of the session, give a quiz on the material.

Students quickly come to realize that these sessions are not just fun and games but really count.


Table of contents

Merlo, a computer science teacher, says that interactive classroom activities are not new to students, and one main reason why teachers have trouble connecting is that they fail to adapt to their students’ perspectives.

“My six-year-old son doesn’t find iPads amazing to him, they’ve always just existed. Similarly, to a lot of students today, experiences like team exercises and flipped classrooms, while foreign to many instructors are not new.

“If we care about reaching today’s students, who seem to have a different idea of student responsibilities than we had, perhaps we have to reach them on their terms.

“In my thirties, I could still find a lot of similarities with my twenty-something students. But now, in my forties? Not so much. What I’ve started to realize is that it isn’t just the little things, like whether they’ve seen Ghostbusters. (They haven’t.) It’s the big things, like how they learn.”

Semma, a humanities TA, found that the chalk-and-talk approach failed on her first day in front of a class. “It was a lot like parallel parking in front of 20 people,” she said. “I looked more like a classmate. I dropped the eraser on my face whilst trying to write my name on the board. One of my students called me ‘mom.’”

“I chalked it up to first day jitters, but that same quietness crept its way back into my classroom for the next tutorial, and the next tutorial and the next. While nearly silent in class, my students were rather vocal in the endless stream of emails that flooded my inbox. That way I knew they wanted to learn. I also knew that I had to find a way to make tutorials more engaging.”

From these experiences, Merlo and Semma now share some interactive classroom activities for students and for teachers that can turn a quiet classroom full of people unwilling to speak up to a hive of debate, making the student learning experience more collaborative for everyone.

Energize your college classroom and get discussions flowing. Download The Best Classroom Activities for College Courses to engage and motivate students.


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I believe that middle school doesn’t have to be overwhelming when you use creative activities and unique tools.

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