8 Ways to Get Students Moving in the Classroom

Movement in the classroom is beneficial for many reasons. First and foremost, getting up to move in the classroom might help anxious students relieve stress. Moving around during class also helps to reduce stress, and it helps to get our blood circulating. Here are five ways to incorporate movement in your classroom to improve learning and student engagement.

Here is a list of 8 ways you can add movement to your classroom while also incorporating student accountability.

1. Collaborative Brainstorming
There are so many positive benefits that stem from collaborative brainstorming.  Not only do students get to learn from and teach one another, they also gain self-confidence. To conduct group brainstorming in your classroom, assign a variety of different topics to each group. Each group should have a different topic. Students will get up and move to work with their new group. This activity also lends itself to a gallery walk activity to promote even more movement in the classroom.
To add in accountability, keep the groups small and circulate throughout the classroom as students work.

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2. Sticky Note Questions and Answers
One quick and easy way to get students engaged and moving is to incorporate sticky notes in your lesson. Ask students a question and have them respond on the sticky note. After students write the answer to the question on the notes, they will get up and post their notes on the board. This strategy can work as a bell-ringer activity or as a quick little break in the middle of the lesson. It is also a great strategy to use to survey your students when assessing prior knowledge.
To add in accountability, instruct students to write their names on the back of the sticky note.

3. Stations
Incorporating learning stations in your lesson plans is a great way to encourage movement in the classroom. Several stations I frequently use in the classroom are a reading station, practice station, and tech station. The reading station might be a section from a novel you are currently reading in class, a speech related to the theme of a novel you are reading in class, or a nonfiction article that connects to your current unit of study. The practice station is usually a group worksheet or brainstorming organizer where students practice a skill they are working on. The tech station is generally dedicated class time for students to work on an assignment on the computer. These three stations require little prep on your part, and they help the class period go by much quicker.
To add in accountability, have students turn their work in at the end of each station.

4. Escape Rooms
Escape rooms are all the rage right now, and they make learning fun. In fact, students beg for more escape rooms. Recently, I conducted two escape room challenges in my classroom, a growth mindset escape room and a nonfiction reading escape room. My students were moving, collaborating, and problem-solving, and it was amazing!
To add in accountability, require every student to turn in either an answer sheet or a reflection.

5. Give One, Get One
Give One Get One is a great strategy that is easy to implement in any lesson. I like using this strategy best after taking notes or reviewing a film or Ted Talk. To incorporate this learning strategy in your lesson plan, instruct students to get up and share their notes or one of their takeaways with another student. Then, they will need to ask another student to share notes or for their takeaway.
To add in accountability, have students write down the information they receive.

6. Gallery Walks
Gallery walks are one of my favorite ways to get students up and moving. One way that I introduce students to new concepts is by having my students complete group posters. They research the new idea and write information about it on the poster. For the gallery walk portion of this activity, have your students post their posters (or other work) up on the walls. You’ll want the work to be pretty spread out throughout the room. Then have students walk around the room examining each poster.
To add in accountability, have students complete a chart or take notes as they circulate throughout the room.

7. Carousel Questions
The carousel questions strategy is similar to a gallery walk, but rather than taking information from the posters and learning from the posters, students are contributing to the posters. This is a great strategy to use when you are introducing a new unit or reviewing a unit. Post chart or butcher paper around the room, and write different introductory or review questions on each page. Instruct students to walk throughout the room and answer each question. Complete the introduction or review strategy by reviewing several of the answers with the class.
To add in accountability, you can assign this as group work. Have students circulate throughout the room in groups and assign a different color marker for each group. At the end of the activity, check to see if every single color is present in the paper.

8. Take them outside
One sure fire way to get students moving is to take them outside for the lesson. If it is a beautiful day and you have reading or writing scheduled, take students outside to complete the task. To add in accountability, collect the assignment at the end of the class, or plan to do this again (especially if the students like being outside) as a positive reward for their conduct outside.

What Your School Librarian Wants You to Know

Sometimes the best way to improve your classroom is by stepping out of it…and walking down the hall to the library. Your school’s library has a vast number of resources just waiting for you and your students to take advantage of. Most importantly, your librarian is there to help with all of your classroom needs.  Here are a few things to know about your school’s library.

Electronic Resources
School libraries have access to many online and downloadable resources such as eBooks and audiobooks. Your librarian can help you or your students find electronic sources to support your curriculum. Libraries also subscribe to many online databases that can be a huge help for your class research projects.

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Research Help
As previously stated, libraries have access to electronic materials, and they love doing collaborative lessons on how to execute a research project properly. Librarians are research experts and can help your students find reliable, peer-reviewed sources. They can also help teach students how to do proper citations. Make sure you keep your librarian up to date on what you’re doing in your classroom so they can find materials to support you and your students.

Interlibrary Loan
If you can’t find a specific resource for your classroom, ask your librarian! Your school’s library has access to materials through interlibrary. This means that they can receive materials from other school districts, public libraries, and even colleges and universities. If it’s a book that you believe should be in your own school’s circulation, let your librarian know. They are always excited to hear your ideas on books that may enhance the library’s collection.

The Library Space
Your school’s library is more than a study hall. Libraries include space and computers for classroom use. Talk to your librarian about using the space that is intended for you. They would love to collaborate on a lesson with you, and the library is a great place full of helpful materials for you to teach a lesson.

Know Your Librarian
Like you, your librarian is a certified individual who is ready and excited to help educate students. They are always eager to help provide you with resources and collaborate on projects. Their sole purpose is not to provide you with a break. They are educators just like you.

Incorporating Pop Culture in the ELA Classroom

Older literature can be hard to teach sometimes in the modern age. Language can become misinterpreted, students might not be interested, or the stories just don’t have the same meaning anymore. However, current pop culture does replicate and successfully take on the messages of this older literature.

Watch any television show, read any new book, or listen to the latest music, you can see the elements of classical literature. Here are some shows to check out to give a new spin on the classics:

1. The Simpsons
From Edgar Allen Poe to The Count of Monte Cristo, The Simpsons has been famous for some of their classical parodies and did it in a manner which brings fun to the stories and poems. While some of the humor may not be appropriate for younger students, for students in high school, it’s a perfect way for them to become more involved. This can be fun to use for many lessons, as The Simpsons incorporates famous tales such as The Odyssey, The Raven, and Hamlet.

2. Wishbone
This classic 90s show was a great way for students to apply lessons from literature in their daily lives and see it similarly in others. It also has a cute dog (just a bonus). It’s great for middle schoolers and students just starting high school. It’s a fun way to be able to relate to literature, as well as learn about it. This series can be used to teach The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and other short stories and can even be used for plays such as Romeo and Juliet.

3. The Percy Jackson Series
Written for middle school, this is a great way to teach mythology. The entire series has pieces from different myths and stories and is a fun way to bring a tale to the modern age. It’s engaging for the reader and a great way for students who may not enjoy reading or have trouble reading to become more involved in the class. It’s also an interesting way to involve students who have learning disabilities with characters they can relate to. This goes well with any story or play written in Ancient Greek times. The Odyssey is an excellent pairing to go with this series due to the many quests the heroes go on to reach their ultimate goal.

4. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries
The web series takes a new, more modern spin on Pride and Prejudice. It’s fun for many students and very relatable for students about to head to college. The creators of the show, Pemberley Digital, have also created series based on Jane Austen’s Emma and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It’s a creative way to look at these pieces and to have a good laugh.

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Why English Teachers Should Assign Creative Writing

Why students need to do creative writing
The short story is the backbone of the English class. Learning how to read through one, how to analyze, and seeing the different pieces of imagery and metaphor that can be found in it. However, writing short stories is something that can significantly help students.
Why students need to do creative writing

It’s a way to exercise the brain through the different creative processes that go into it. Much of learning nowadays is focused on the mathematical and analytical side of the brain. Creativity is not always seen as an important thing within schools as compared with test scores. However, students need to be able to exercise the creative side of their brain. Otherwise, they start to think of things in one particular way and are not open to other ways of thought.

Since there is this focus on the analytical side of student’s brains, students often feel limited in ways to express their creativity. This is an excellent way to give students that freedom to think about situations that they or others they know might be in and run with the “what-ifs” they might face. This is also an excellent way for students to think about what they would want in other worlds.

Besides just letting the students be creative, writing short stories can help students understand the stories they are reading better. If the assignment is add in an extra chapter to a novel or say what comes after a short story, they have to think about the characters and their motives. It can provoke discussion for students on whether not a character would do this in that situation.

The student also has to understand the voice of the author and the imagery, metaphor, and many other things that go along with the writing. It makes students think about what words and phrases mean with the story, and look at and understand the setting of the world they are reading about.

Creative writing is a great way to help students with different things, and it’s essential to allow students the ability to be creative within the classroom while learning the skills necessary to understand the things they are reading in the classroom.

Resources to teach creative and narrative writing:

5 Ways to Make Poetry Fun

5 ways to make teaching poetry in the high school or middle school English language arts classroom fun.
Many students tend to be scared away from poetry. More often than not, students who believe that they either do not enjoy poetry or they don’t understand it dread the poetry unit in an English classroom. This is often due to improper teaching in previous classes. Students must learn how to take the appropriate approach to poetry while allowing themselves to enjoy and make personal connections with the piece.  Here are five ways to make poetry fun and approachable in the classroom.

1. Taking the proper stance
Readers should enjoy poetry. Students should not have to stress over proper interpretation while worrying about whether they understand it correctly. A poem should not be approached in the same way that students approach, say, a history textbook. Make sure your students know they are free to enjoy the poem without worrying about finding out the “true meaning.”

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5 ways to make teaching poetry in the high school or middle school English language arts classroom fun.
2. Multiple Interpretations
Students often become so desperate to find out what a poem means while reading poetry. In actuality, a single poem can have many different meanings depending on the reader. Make sure students are aware that they are free to make personal interpretations that may differ from those of other students. Try introducing your poetry unit with Billy Collins’s poem “Introduction to Poetry.” This poem shows that it is not always necessary to meticulously dissect a poem to enjoy it.

3. Reading Out Loud
Poetry stems from oral traditions of singing and storytelling. This means that they are intended to be read aloud. Reading a poem to your students and encouraging them to do the same will help them to hear the rhythms and rhyme schemes of the poem.

4. Let students find poems of their own
While it is important to include a list of poems in your curriculum that you believe to be important, students may struggle to connect with them. A personal connection and appreciation for a poem will help students’ overall enjoyment of poetry. Allow students to find poems on their own that they perceive to be meaningful to them. Students can search for poems based on a title, authorship, or subject on poetryfoundation.org.

5. Have your own in-class poetry jam
Create a time and space in your classroom for students to share poems that they enjoy, or, poems that they have written themselves. Make this a fun activity rather than for a grade. This will ease students into the idea that poetry doesn’t always have to be a rigorous task, but it can be aesthetic and enjoyable as well. Try creating an inviting atmosphere with snacks and candles if your school allows.

Poetry Teaching Resources:
Poetry Analysis Unit with Sticky Units