6 Ways to Have Movement in the Secondary Classroom

When I was in school our desks were always in rows and my teachers always lectured. I am an auditory learner so I excelled in school with this type of traditional teaching. Educators today vary their teaching methods to fit a variety of needs. Our students all have different learning styles and we need to adjust the way we teach to fit their needs. I like to vary my activities and one way to "shake things up" is to have movement in your classroom. It's not easy to sit still through an entire class and moving around is one way to combat boredom. My examples are for an ELA classroom but they can be adapted for other subject areas. I hope that these suggestions are beneficial. If you have any questions or suggestions leave me a comment or email me.

Here are a few suggestions of things I've done in the past:

1) Station Work

I've done station work several times and I find that in an ELA classroom it works well when you're starting a new work of literature. For station work you will need to set up your desks in groups. I usually do 5 or 6 stations but you can do as many as you want depending upon the length of your class and the level of your students.

This is an example I used when starting the play The Crucible by Arthur Miller. Before beginning the station work every student gets a handout with questions. There are 5-6 questions for each station.

Station One: An article about Puritans in America.
Station Two: The article "How to Spot a Witch" (This can be found online.)
Station Three: A biography of Arthur Miller
Station Four: An article on  McCarthyism.
Station Five: Pictures of puritans showing how they dressed and portraying their every day lives.
Station Six: Laptops or iPads with an excerpt from the film Witchcraft in America showing on it. (Use headphones if you want this to be a quiet activity.)

2) Group Work Using Chart Paper

I like to do group work that involves chart paper so that 1) students can move around a little and 2) I can display student work in my classroom. In an earlier blog post I wrote about using the SIFT Method for analyzing poetry.

After going over the SIFT Method I break up the students into groups. Each group gets a different poem, a sheet of chart paper and 2 or 3 markers. When I do this activity I use poems that have been on the ELA Regents Exam or the AP Literature Exam. This activity will work with any poems. Using the SIFT method they analyze their poem and write it out on the chart paper. If you want even more movement you can have them present their poems to the class. If you do presentation this could end up being a two day lesson. I also have a short free video on TpT about the SIFT method. (If you watch it I apologize ahead of time for looking like a mess in it. I'm VERY nervous about videos and that was my first one.)

3) Presentations

Once upon a time my school thought it was a good idea to force every child to take one semester of public speaking. I tried to make the class fun, but not every kid likes getting in front of the room. I had students who would rather fail than stand in front of the room.

Whether you do group presentations or have every student present you 1) get them to move in the classroom and 2) have them practice a useful skill. I always tell my students that it's better to practice public speaking in high school where they know everyone than to do it for the first time in a large college class.

The first time I taught Oedipus the King, I was shocked that many of my students were unfamiliar with the Gods and Goddesses of Greek Mythology so I designed a project where they each picked a figure from Greek Mythology out of a hat and did a presentation about that figure.

This activity is FREE in my TpT store listed here: Greek Mythology Research Assignment.

You can do what I call a mini speech (under 5 minutes) where they have to interview a classmate. You can also have them do a "How To" speech where they model how to do something. Another fun public speaking activity is an Object Speech. I always model this assignment by bringing in my old teddy bear. When I taught public speaking my favorite type of speech to have the students do was an impromptu speech. Students would pull a topic out of a hat and they'd have to give a speech on the spot about that topic. They were usually hilarious.

4) Library Scavenger Hunts

This is an alternative to station work. I will simply give my students a list of questions to answer and they are not allowed to use the internet for this assignment. You can have them work individually, in pairs or in groups for this assignment. The person or group that completes that scavenger hunt the fastest (with accuracy of course) gets a prize (either candy or a free homework pass). I have a FREE Shakespeare Scavenger Hunt in my TpT store.

5) Using the SmartBoard

There are a variety of ways you can get students out of their seats to answer questions on the Smartboard (or the traditional chalkboard/dry erase board). I ask students to write on the board all the time. If they're reluctant I tell them that their handwriting is better than mine.

6) Interactive Word Walls

My school loves word walls but I don't want students to see a vocabulary word and not know what it means. I started having them make interactive word walls. I will give each group a list of words to look up in the dictionary (I always have a few dictionaries in my room. I have at least 2-3 per group. If I have less dictionaries than students that means that the students need to work together and interact.) Students take a sheet of paper and fold it in half. On the outside they write the word and on the inside they write the definition. These words get hung up on the wall or on a bulletin board. When other students see the word and they want to know what it means they have to lift the flap to see the definition. This works well with SAT vocabulary or vocabulary for a novel that you're teaching. If your school has a word of the day you can use it for that as well. Not only do your students learn new words but if you give the students colorful markers they're making classroom decor for you as well.

Here are some pictures from my Shakespeare Interactive Word Wall


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