Sunday, November 23, 2014

Student Activities

I found a blog post today called "Ten Nonfiction Activity Ideas for Kids" by Loreen Leedy. In school there is a lot of reading involved in learning. The lesson plans of many teachers require students to read text and answer questions about it. That strategy has its role but gets boring when used too often. When students are bored they are not making connections with the material and are not learning as much as they could. There are so many great alternatives to have students show their understanding of the material than simply answering questions from the book or a worksheet.

In my class I often  have students do the activities listed below  in addition to or instead of answering worksheet questions. Some of the ideas listed below are from the blog previously mentioned.

  • Students can complete stations around the room individually or in small groups. The stations are basically just questions from a worksheet cut up and posted around the room. Even though students are still answering questions about the content, they are excited to do it because it is presented to them in a different form where they can move around and choose their own order.
  • Students can write the definitions of vocabulary words, use the vocabulary words in a sentence, and draw something that helps them remember the meaning. I use this for my most vocabulary heavy units, like genetics. 
  • Students can act out key ideas to help with understanding the information in a new way.  I am amazed how many boring subjects can be livened up with students creatively expressing the content in front of their peers. 
  • Students can write paragraphs about how the information is important to them and their lives. I always try to include why students need to know certain information, but it is even better when students can make those connections themselves.
  • Students can create a poster or comic to show the most important parts of the material. I have had success with using poster and comic creation in my science classroom. I always explain the rubric and expectations before assigning the project. The students come up with fun ideas and enjoy showing their projects to others, which is a great opportunity for students to learn from their classmates. Below are examples of poster and comic projects I've assigned in my classroom. 
The Changes in States of Matter Poster Project is suitable for middle school students. Guidelines and a grading rubric are included in the resource on my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Take a look at the example of a poster the students might create as part of this project.
 Changes in States of Matter Poster Project

The Density Comic helps my middle school students understand density. Density is something many of them take a while to understand and making a comic about it tends to help them master the concepts more quickly (while having fun).  The resource from my Teachers Pay Teachers store includes guidelines for students and how to grade the finished comics. The comic shown below was created using those guidelines.
 Density Comic
I hope this post gave you some good ideas about activities for your own classroom!

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