4 Ways to Get Student Moving and Thinking

Decorative: "Get them moving!"


"4 Ways to Get Students Moving in Class" (post) outlines ways to "[b]uild students' sense of engagement by incorporating activities that get them out of their seats to work with course content."

A. Rationale

  • "[L]earning ... can be demanding, exhausting, and not always entertaining."
  • "Having students moving and talking not only builds important social and public speaking skills but also adds some fun to the learning environment that empowers and engages learners."
  • "[M]any strategies ... are easy to implement."

B. 4 Strategies

1. Four Corner Discussions

a. Process 

  • "Before reading a text or at the beginning of your new unit, come up with a few debatable statements that are relevant to what you are learning."
  • "[D]ivide the room into four different corners: Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, and Strongly Disagree."
  • "Make sure to label these corners of the room to make this activity easier."
  • "After announcing a statement, have students stand still for a few moments so they can think about their position."
  • "[T]hen tell them to move to the corner of the room where they can discuss their position with like-minded peers."
  • "After giving two to four minutes of small group discussion time, pause their conversations and have a short whole-class discussion with representatives from all sides."
  • "Then move on to the next statement."

b. Benefit

  • It also "increases movement while students practice their speaking and listening skills, along with their academic language."

2. Gallery Walks

a. Process 

  • "[G]et students to walk around the room and interpret or analyze different materials displayed on desks or walls."
  • "Depending on your class size, you may want to post or display five to 10 artifacts that you would like students to interact with."
  • "Allow students to walk freely with a partner or a group to the different artifacts and either have a small-group discussion or write down their answers for you to review later on."
  • "You don’t have to stick to words—students can observe, discuss, and reflect on images as well."

b. Benefit 

  • "Higher exposure to your content ... front-load[s] a topic or ... [has] students dig deeper." 

3. Silent Discussion Boards

a. Process 

  • "[A]round the room, put up poster paper or butcher paper, each with a question written on it."
  • "The questions should be open-ended and relevant to the topic you are currently teaching."
  • "Have students silently walk around the room and write their answers on the poster paper."
  • "They are able to walk freely and should write on each poster paper more than once."

b. Effect 

  • "As the conversations grow, students are essentially creating a collaborative mind map with their peers."
  • "They can stem off each other’s statements and ask their own questions or respond to another classmate’s ideas."
  • "As they return to the different discussion boards, they can see how each conversation has grown and evolved."

c. Benefit 

  • This "increase[s] movement and collaboration."
  • It "is particularly empowering for more introverted students who may otherwise not feel as confident about sharing their opinions."

4. Musical Diversions

a. Process 

  • "As you play music, the students walk around the classroom."
  • "Once the music stops, they find the closest person to them."
  • "Ask a question that they discuss with their partner ... get-to-know-you questions ... or a content-related question for them to explore together."

b. Option:

  • "[A]sk the question before starting the music."
  • This "give[s] students more thinking time and to alleviate any anxiety that students may feel about talking to others."

c. Benefit:

  • "This ... can be ... a community builder or as a way for students to further discuss a topic or concept from your classroom." 
  • It "get[s] students moving and socializing with students in the class that they otherwise may not interact with much."
  • "It also takes out the awkward panicked feeling of a student needing to find a partner for an assignment."
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