As we near the Thanksgiving break, kids are plodding through their textbooks as teachers move through more lectures. Around this time, it might even feel like students are beginning to lose enthusiasm and become distracted. Maybe it’s the perfect point in the semester to shake things up a little bit in the classroom. For teachers who want to keep their students engaged, here are five smart ways to liven up learning in the classroom.
1. Take Math Problems Outside
There are many easy ways to mix up traditional subjects such as math. Instead of spending every lesson in front of the white board, try taking your class outside to the main quad or play area. For younger students, write out problems with chalk and then ask them to find objects to represent the answers. For instance, 2+4= four pine cones collected from the playground. Swap reading glasses for sunglasses and enjoy the last good fall days before winter sets in. And you may find that math class outdoors inspires students for whom you were considering trying to find algebra tutors.
2. Fostering a Love of Literature
When it comes to reading and writing, find ways move past the textbook. Whether this manifests itself in acting out scenes from a play or drawing the setting of a poem, find creative literature lessons to begin fostering enthusiasm in young readers.
Every child is different and will have varying interests that ignite their excitement. Literature can easily be incorporated with other subjects that students are already working on or may feel more enthusiastic about. Have kids kill two birds with one stone by assigning a historical fiction assignment in which they write from the perspective of a character living in the time of their current history lesson. Or let children explore biographies of their favorite scientists to practice reading, writing, and interpreting skills while enjoying research about their subject of choice.
For older students who are increasingly tech savvy, assign group projects for summarizing a play or other work with a short video presentation. One group of students transformed Jane Austen’s Persuasion into a Facebook drama complete with profiles for each character.
3. Learning Sustainability through Science
Science offers great opportunities for stretching outside the normal classroom patterns. Work on planting a community garden as part of a botany unit. Or teach a lesson on sustainability and recycling and assign students initiatives for cleaning up around the school or at home. This is a great way to challenge both younger and older children to develop creative solutions to waste problems or other environmental projects.
4. Make Your Own Recycled Instruments
Continue your lesson on sustainability by having students collect recycled materials and then transform them into their very own musical instruments. Artistically decorating a pair of coffee cans and sticks can create a wonderful drum set. Stretching rubber bands over a tissue box makes a recycled guitar. Fitting a plastic funnel into a section of garden hose results in a homemade tuba. These are just some of the fun ways that teachers can incorporate art and music appreciation in with other curriculum.
5. Alternative P.E. Options
And for teachers tired of driving their kids around the school track during the P.E. hour, consider opening up activity options to include:
•A nearby nature hike
•Creating an obstacle course
•Jogging around the neighborhood
•Mini fitness challenges like X number of pushups in 30 seconds
With these great ideas for mixing things up, you can help kids get re-energized about learning this fall.
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