teenagers engaged and involved is a whole other issue. However, interaction of
some sort is a staple for just about every day in my classroom to reinforce,
review, or revitalize a lesson. Whether
it is just a quick conversation with a shoulder partner, a game that requires
movement to demonstrate understanding, or a hands-on task, students do
appreciate the opportunity to get out of those straight rows for a few
minutes. Here are 5 interactive strategies
to engage secondary students!
Teenagers love to
talk. So, I make use of every
opportunity to capitalize on their chatter.
From the very first week of school, I model and we practice accountable,
academically productive talk. Discussions
can come in several forms and fashions.
Sometimes we just turn to our “shoulder partner” and share our journal
response; other times we move into our “row teams” and discuss a chapter from
the novel we are reading. One really fun way to spark discussions is with
Rotating Stations. This type of activity
would work for many concepts. I like to
use it for discussing key or significant moments from a text we are reading. Each
station has a quote taped to butcher paper, and then small groups rotate
through the stations adding their thoughts and comments to the paper. When time is up, I play
a piece of a song, and that’s the signal for the groups to move to new stations
in the classroom where they continue their discussion, based on the ideas they
encounter from the previous group. Rotations
continue every few minutes until each group has been at all of the positions
and has had a chance to consider all of the other groups’ comments. Academically productive talk allows students
to share ideas, and it ultimately prepares them for an individual assignment,
such as a writing task.
media. We aren’t a full BYOD school or a
1:1, but we do have a policy where teachers can request for students to use
their devices in class for an assignment, and we do have a floating class set
of iPads. When I can, I like to plan some extra time to host virtual
discussions. Two free cool tools I use
to host a digital dialogue are Padlet.com and Today’s Meet.com. Padlet has tons of uses, but one fun way is
to just pose a question or topic, and then students plug in the unique URL and
begin posting their responses. Today’s
Meet allows teachers to set up a temporary “room” for discussion. Students join
the room and begin texting their ideas. My
students give rave reviews about the days we gab with gadgets!
Skills with Games that Incorporate Movement
review work isn’t all that glamorous. That is unless it’s interactive! A simple
way to bring in a quick review of vocabulary or the previous day’s lesson is
with Ball Toss Review. I have a small ball that I toss out to get the game
going. If we are reviewing vocabulary, I may say a word and have the student
define it. He/she answers it and then
tosses to another student. This is also fun for reviewing the previous day’s
lesson. One student states something
he/she remembers, passes the ball for another student to add an idea, and so
on. Another strategy I use for reviewing
key skills is the “humanization” of more traditional classroom activities. Do you have a sorting activity? Why not make it into
human-sorting? Have terms for students to match? Why not have students play it
human-matching style? Directions and materials are included in all of my “human sorting and matching” games! Additionally, most all of my literature guides come with a human plot chart activity for review (pictured below)! They are easy to make, and kids love them! Check out my full catalog of Creative Worksheet Alternatives for ELA!
Out Their Inner Child
No matter how old
they are, teenagers still love a little cut and paste time! Once upon a time I inherited
a whole slew of magazines. I just couldn’t bear to trash all that beautiful authentic
text, so it hit me – Collage Bingo! This interactive activity marries a couple
of old favorites: cut and paste collage
and the scavenger hunt. I love this
interactive activity because my students get exposed to a ton of text, we are
reviewing key terms, and it is so easy to implement. Collage Bingo is even
great for short days or substitutes!
peer edit – productive being the key word here!
I think where the peer edit breaks down is when students aren’t really
sure what they are looking for and aren’t comfortable communicating their
suggestions to a friend. What I’ve found
to make peer editing actually work is to practice peer editing sample papers
from the “File of Papers from the Unknown Students” first. Once we do guided practice, students gain
more confidence on how to offer constructive criticism. There are several ways to orchestrate a peer
edit from providing students with a checklist, list of questions, or a
foldable. To make a simple peer editing foldable,
just have students make one “hot-dog” fold.
On one side of the fold have students list the strengths. On the other
side, have the list the struggles. Voila – an easy-peasy, no-prep peer edit
interactive activity! Also, consider having
students focus their energies and comments by limiting or suggesting what they
look for – grammar, thesis statement, or colorful vocabulary. They don’t have
to tackle everything all at once. Hearing
and seeing students interact to improve writing just gives me “cold dots,”
which is what my six-year old niece calls cold chills!