I've spent the better part of the last six weeks recovering from the flu (apparently something as mundane as the flu does a real number on someone with chronic illness...), so I'm going to publish a couple posts back-to-back today to update you all on some recent classroom activities I've really enjoyed.
This first one originated out of an attempt to keep my students PHYSICALLY participating in their learning. Back at my Johnson University days, I was taught that physical activity should be part of every lesson. Although I don't hit that goal 100% of the time these days, I do try to work multiple active learning opportunities into every unit.
Shortly after Christmas break, I was teaching prepositions. I was looking for ways to teach prepositions actively without too much prep work since I was still something akin to a zombie thanks to my New Year's Day flu diagnosis. Here were my ideas:
Preposition Scavenger Hunt
This idea was simple. I had one student volunteer stand in the hallway outside my room while another hid a designated object somewhere in the room. I reminded the rest of the class to not give clues with their eyes or body language. Then I called the volunteer back in. The rest of the class took turns giving verbal clues using prepositions until the volunteer located the item. Then we rotated roles.
This is an idea I've used for a few years, and it actually led to the Preposition Lego Challenge idea. For this activity, students will need to be grouped in partners or small groups. Each student needs a piece of paper and a pencil. Students are seated facing away from each other. One student in each group is designated the original drawer. Then they draw a simple picture using basic shapes and lines--nothing too complicated. After completing the drawing, this student uses clear step-by-step directions, with a focus on prepositions, to instruct his or her group members how to recreate their drawing. When finished, everyone compares their drawings (usually with lots of giggles).
Preposition Lego Challenge
This idea was a new extension of the Preposition Drawing activity. I have a tub of Legos in my room, and my students LOVE to build with them. Looking for a way to engage and interest my most reluctant learners, I decided to include Legos in our preposition lessons. Students were grouped similarly to the preposition drawing activity (groups of 3 or partners, seated back-to-back). I divided my Legos into plastic cups, one for each student, with identical Lego blocks in each. One student in each group or partnership was designated the builder. This student constructed anything they wanted with their Legos, without having to use all the blocks I gave them. When they were finished, they gave step-by-step directions, using prepositions, so their partner could recreate their design. When finished, students compared (and giggled).
I allowed the partners to ask for clarification ("When you said to put the small red block in the middle, did you mean the middle of the short side or the long side?"), and I was delighted to witness the careful, specific communication skills they used. I have students with a wide range of abilities and disabilities, and even my most reluctant communicators were carefully selecting their words and thinking critically to seek more information. We know students tend to remember information better when learning is connected to movement, and we also know that building with blocks engages the same areas of the brain needed for mathematical thinking, so by adding these communication and language skills, this was a well-rounded learning activity that could easily be adapted for other skill sets.
Students were engaged and had a blast. How many other teachers use Legos for grammar? Yet another reason why Mrs. Powell's class is one of the best ;)
If you are a teacher, you know how much better your class runs when your students are ACTIVELY learning. These activities are just a few examples of how easily physical activity and creativity can be added to everyday learning. What are your favorite preposition activities?