Teacher Designed Activities
Every class has to have a well-designed lesson plan to ensure that each lesson gives the student and the teacher the valuable tools needed to master the target subject. A major part of that lesson plan is the classroom activities that will help the student to fully grasp the concepts being taught. While a portion of your lesson may include a discussion or lecture phase, it is the activity section that will get students engaged and breathe life into the lesson. According to educational experts from the Harriet W. Sheridan Center at Brown University,
“Students learn through their participation in the attainment of knowledge by gathering and processing it by solving problems and articulating what they have discovered.”
Classroom activities help the student to access both hemispheres in the brain so that they not only are able to understand the lesson but to retain it through practical application in everyday life. As a teacher, the activities you design should help to broaden the student’s minds and help you to gauge how effective your teaching has been.
Warm Up Exercises
Activities like icebreakers are ideal for setting up the lessons and preparing the students’ minds for what is to come. They are great when you have a class of students who don’t know each other as they encourage intercommunication and prepare them for pair and group work later on. Many teachers often use them for team-building exercises before starting the core section of the lesson. The key to successful warm up exercises is to not complicate it. When the teacher designs the activities with a specific goal in mind and adapts it to the student’s needs they find that everyone benefits. Some popular warm up exercises include:
The Human Web: This focuses on how people in the group inter-relate and depend on each other.
The facilitator begins with a ball of yarn. Keeping one end, pass the ball to one of the participants, and the person introduces him/herself and their role in the organization. Once this person has made their introduction, ask him or her to pass the ball of yarn on to another person in the group. The person handing over the ball must describe how he/she relates (or expects to relate) to the other person. The process continues until everyone is introduced.
To emphasize the interdependencies amongst the team, the facilitator then pulls on the starting thread and everyone's hand should move.
This type of activity asks students to analyze a problem or issue on their own and then pair up with other students to openly discuss possible solutions. Sharing activities are great for when you want your students to engage in a deeper thought process and build their critical thinking skills. It also helps them to build up their communication skills as they learn to relay their thoughts and ideas to others.
Interviews or Role Play
These types of activities work well when you’re dealing with historical figures or events. Students can take on the role of the people that are being studied during a specified time period and interact with other students as their character. In order for the activity to be effective, the teacher will have to help the students to develop their organizational skills and structure the assignment well. After the activity is completed, the teacher should always do a debriefing with the class. This is where the main points of the lesson are discussed and clarified so that the student fully understands the purpose of the assignment.
Students who engage in role play activities learn how to solve problems, resolve conflicts, and develop the skills needed to analyze situations from many different angles. Often teachers and students both tend to shy away from this type of assignment however, when it is well-prepared and done right there are many advantages to be had. For more information on role play activities for the classroom, visit http://podnetwork.org/content/uploads/V19-N5-Nickerson.pdf for suggestions and guidelines.
Any good teacher knows that to be effective in the classroom, a well-laid-out lesson plan is essential. When the lessons for each day are organized and presented in a clear and concise manner, your students will be able to grasp lessons quickly and learn from them. However, the lesson plan is only part of the equation. It is the teacher-designed activities that give the lesson the inspiration to want to keep learning and progressing. These activities engage the student and absorb them in the subject. While many may feel that the given curriculum provides plenty of coursework to keep the students busy, only the teacher, the one who interacts with the students every day, knows exactly what motivates each student. When the teacher designs those activities it is clear that everyone will gain from the result.