Re-Engaging Strategies: #1 – Get Movin!

You are on the downhill slide of the 2020-2021 school year, and it has been exhausting! Unfortunately (or fortunately – depending on how you look at it), you still have a few weeks to go! This is a very pivotal time in the school year. You have two ways to finish the year up: weak or strong.

You have worked so hard and overcome so much – why quit on your students now? I know they are shutting down, and it’s hard not to shut down as the leader in the classroom also, but you’re stronger than that! Your students deserve someone who’s going to take them across the finish line with confidence and strength – and that person is you!

How do you finish strong? Perhaps the biggest challenge in this is re-engaging and then keeping your students engaged in the learning. How do you do this?

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to center these blogs around re-engagement. One of the most effective ways to get and keep kids engaged is MOVEMENT!

I want to give you 3 ways to get students moving in your classroom:

1.Total Physical Response – if you’ve spent any time with me at all, you’ve probably heard me talk about total physical response. This is simply putting a hand motion or a movement to a meaning. This is a fantastic brain-based strategy to help students with vocabulary, multiple steps, or multiple parts of content. I’ve heard 8th graders whip out the Bill of Rights putting a hand motion to each amendment. This is an amazing strategy for English Learners, but it’s really great for all students. Think about it – is there a hand motion you still do as an adult that helped you remember something in childhood? Maybe the ‘L’ your left thumb and pointer finger make to remind you which is your left hand (or is that just me?)? Any hand motions that went to songs that when you hear the song, you automatically do the hand motion?

The important thing about Total Physical Response (TPR) is that the students do the hand motion every time the content is mentioned. They need to say it and do the motion at the same time in order to cement the learning. Don’t be afraid to have them practice this!

The great thing that happens here, is that even if students think it’s “cheesy” when they are learning it, you’ll see them using the hand motions on a quiz or test- and then remember the meaning!

For more examples and explanation of TPR, check out my YouTube Video: Repetition and Total Physical Response: Quick fixes to cement learning!

2. Get kids moving around the room or hallway – yep, I said it. I know we have to be careful with COVID protocols – but your students have “normalized” this school year, and they know how to walk around with people. Put them in smaller groups, set a timer for 15 minutes, and have any questions that they could answer at their desk taped up on the walls! Just by having them getting up and walking around, this will start the blood flowing in their brains.

3. Dancing or Walking to Music – One strategy we’ve adapted from EL Saber Enterprise is Musical Words! This is an awesome strategy that builds vocabulary, language, and uses movement and music! Students put into groups of 5-6 and are numbered off 1-5 (or as many people who are in the group). Each student is given a post-it note. They write one word off of the word wall and turn their paper face down. When the music plays (choose something upbeat!), they pass the papers to the right. When the music stops, you call out a number. If you call number 3, the student numbered #3 holds his piece of paper up without looking at it. The rest of the group gives the student clues to guess his word. Once he figures out his word, the next student in order (so in this example, #4) immediately holds up her word, and the rest of the students try to give clues so she can guess it. They continue going around the circle until you start playing music again. You repeat this 3-4 times. Then everyone can pass around hand sanitizer! Here is the explanation of this, along with the virtual version! YouTube Video: Virtual Note Card Heads UP!

If this activity doesn’t float your boat, then just dance! Have fun music on when the students are entering your classroom, and don’t be afraid to have a little dance party. I promise, this will jump start brains for learning!

There are many other ways of moving: take a walk around campus to go on an adjective scavenger hunt (lines or angles scavenger hunt, etc), have stretch breaks and brain breaks!

Please, please, please. Don’t get mad at your kids for checking out. It’s tough for everyone! If kids are shutting down, revamp the work! Make it relevant, and get them moving!

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