As a middle school teacher, you know that keeping students engaged and focused in the classroom can be a challenge. Some students struggle with sitting still for long periods, while others have difficulty staying focused on the material. Incorporating movement into your ELA lessons can be a game-changer, as it not only helps students stay energized and engaged but also helps them retain information better. In this blog post, we’ll explore several ways that middle school teachers can incorporate movement into their classrooms.
Task cards are an excellent tool for incorporating movement into your classroom. You can create task cards with different activities or questions related to a particular topic, and students can move around the classroom completing the tasks at different stations. For example, you can create a set of task cards related to grammar or story elements and students can move from station to station completing different tasks. This type of activity not only incorporates movement but also helps students retain information by providing different types of activities and exercises.
Read this post for more ideas on using task cards in your ELA class.
Gallery walks are another excellent way to incorporate movement into your classroom. A gallery walk is a teaching strategy used to promote active learning by allowing students to explore and discuss content with peers. By engaging with their peers and discussing ideas, students are able to make meaningful connections between what is being taught and its real-world applications. Gallery Walks encourage collaboration, critical thinking, and reflection as students work together in small groups to analyze and interpret meaningful information.
An example of a gallery walk in ELA would be a lesson that introduces a novel. At each station, the teacher could post either an image or a quote from the text along with a few discussion questions. For instance, if you are introducing the novel Night by Elie Wiesel which takes place during World War II, the teacher might post an image of a soldier and ask students to discuss what war may have been like for him. At another station, the teacher might post a picture of an average home from that era and ask questions about how people lived without modern conveniences like appliances or electricity. Finally, the teacher might post quotes from characters in the book and ask questions about them such as their motivations or goals. This type of gallery walk allows students to explore both factual information about the time period as well as build curiosity about the novel they are about to read.
Debates are a fantastic way to incorporate movement and critical thinking into an ELA classroom. Debating requires students to not only think critically about a particular topic but also to engage in active listening, collaboration, and public speaking. You can have students move around the classroom and pair up to debate a particular topic. This type of activity encourages students to engage with each other in a meaningful way, as well as stay focused on the task at hand.
Not quite ready for the chaos that can sometimes accompany debates in middle school? Try a silent debate – a silent debate is a type of debate where students communicate their arguments through writing or visual aids instead of verbal communication. In this type of debate, students do not speak or make any noise, but instead, communicate through writing or drawing their arguments on a large piece of paper or whiteboard.
A silent debate can be a powerful way to engage students in critical thinking and writing, while also promoting collaboration and teamwork. By removing the pressure of verbal communication, students may feel more comfortable expressing their ideas and opinions and may be more willing to take risks in their arguments. Additionally, silent debates can be a great way to accommodate different learning styles and abilities, as students can use a variety of visual aids to convey their points.
Read this post if for more information on Academic Conversations through Silent Debate.
Socratic seminars are a great way to encourage students to engage in deep conversations about a particular topic. These discussions can be incredibly enriching for students, but they can also become stagnant and tedious if students are not actively engaged. To keep students engaged during a Socratic seminar, consider incorporating movement. For example, you can have students stand up and switch seats every few minutes or give them small movements to do during the discussion, such as standing on one foot or stretching their arms.
An English Language Arts classroom could use a Socratic Seminar to discuss the theme of identity in the novel “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Students could be asked to bring in evidence from the novel that supports their claims, such as quotes, passages, or examples of symbolism. During the discussion, each student would have an opportunity to share their insights and ask questions of each other.
Finally, consider incorporating movement by adding brain breaks into your classroom routine. Brain breaks are short, physical activities that give students a chance to move around and recharge their brains. These breaks can be as simple as standing up and stretching, doing jumping jacks, or walking around the classroom. You can schedule brain breaks anytime you think your students need a boost of energy, such as after a long period of sitting or during transitions.
In conclusion, there are many ways to incorporate movement into an ELA classroom. From gallery walks and debates to Socratic seminars and brain breaks, each of these activities can help students engage more deeply with their reading material while also providing them with valuable opportunities for critical thinking, collaboration, public speaking, and physical activity. When used strategically, movement-based activities can be a powerful tool for creating an engaged and active learning environment.
Looking for more ideas? Check out this collaborative post.