Friday, April 11, 2014

8 ways to spruce up that classroom activity

1). Make sure the activity has relevance and purpose beyond 'it's on the test.' We live in a world full of problems that could use improvement and solving, give learning a purpose beyond your classroom and beyond your influence.

2). Give students voice in the activity. Part of empowering students is giving them a voice in the learning process. We should be shifting our focus away from doing education to our students and double-down on doing education with our students.
3). Ensure students have an authentic and preferably a global audience in which to share their learning journey. We the educators are important, but we want our students to showcase and demonstrate their genius with the world. The world is hungry to hear from our students and if our students aren't doing work worthy of sharing with the world, then we need to change what we are doing.

4). Encourage and provide students the opportunity to work collaboratively. The world is going to require and ask our students to work collaboratively and work in teams. Our students not only need these experiences for life, but also when brains are combined the levels of learning are limitless.

5). Don't inadvertently put 'limiters' on student learning, discovery, and exploration by making the activity too specific and too detailed. It's easy to have rubrics and expectations that end up restricting possibility and limiting creativity. Be sure you have some structure and guidance for those who need it, but make sure it's not so limiting to those who need less structure.

6). Get your kids up and moving! The research is quite clear on the effects of activity on the brain and cognitive processes. Instead of confining students to their desks because that will help maintain order in a low level engagement environment, encourage movement and action for a high level engagement environment.

7). Don't hog the stage by doing all the talking and allow your kids to do the talking. The person who does all the talking is the person who will do all the learning. As educators we naturally love to talk, but step aside and allow our kids to lead the action and their learning will go up significantly based on their level of involvement in the learning process.

8). End the activity with a survey getting feedback and input from your students. Students will appreciate the opportunity to provide honest feedback and they will appreciate that you care what they think and what they have to say. The feedback you get will also help in making future activities even better.

What would you add to this list to 'spruce' up that classroom activity?