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Friday, March 30, 2012

Antsy April

As a kid, remember being in classrooms in April? It was almost May, and school was almost out. My mind was on summer break and having fun. Yet, as a student then later as a teacher, testing loomed overhead like a black storm cloud. As birds chirped outside school windows, my mind floated to warm days where I sat anywhere but in the classroom. 

Finding interesting projects that engage learners can be difficult. It's the time of year to take students outdoors for activities. Try Sidewalk Characters if reading novels:

1. To make these, have students (individually or in groups) choose one favorite character from a novel.
2. Make a list of the novels being used on a sheet of paper (you can Xerox this ahead of time).
3. Give each individual or group a number.
4. . Find ten quotes from the novel that define the character's physical features and traits.
5. Go outdoors where plenty of sidewalk space exists.
6. Have one student lay on the sidewalk while others trace a body outline. Bring full aprons to put on students if desired.
7. Fill in the body outline with physical features. ie. How do you think the character looks based on evidence from the novel?
8. Write quotes from the book inside and outside of the traced body outlines. 
9. When finished, place your given number above the body. 
10. Hand individuals or groups a sheet of paper with numbers listed.
11. Find the right title for as many novels as possible on the numbers sheet.

For more fun and engaging, interactive, outdoor ideas, see:
Dangling and Misplaced Modifiers

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

March Madness

With the spring winds come March Madness! Students and teachers are getting ready for standardized testing, but it's Spring Break that is on the minds of many. How can you keep students engaged in learning when their minds are elsewhere? Active learning strategies!

Want an activity to keep kids focused? Try comic book writing. Although this lesson plan was often left for the last project of the year, it works well at any time. The PowerPoint comes with full reproducible handouts, guide, technology links, examples, and so much more! It's a sure fire hit with students and teachers!  Comic Book Writing gives students opportunities to showcase talents, and it gives teachers time to focus on paperwork or one-on-one tutorials. 

How about having students write narrative movies of their lives? Have you ever wondered who might star in the leading role if a movie was made of your life? Who would design fashions? Create music? Run the lights? What's the plot line? Give kids the handouts of The Movie of...Narrative Writing Using the Five Elements of Story and let them plan the movies of their lives. 

Another great way to keep students active and learning is with word puzzles. Try themed puzzles, such as St. Patrick's Day Word Puzzles that include thematic vocabulary for a crossword, word search, and more...

March Madness brings renewal and thoughts of spring, so get students engaged in learning with varieties of active learning lesson plans!

Happy Spring!