Saturday, December 8, 2018

10 Ways to Add Movement in the ELA Classroom


Whether your students are lethargic or super-charged, adding movement to your lesson plans will help to solve both issues. Not only is it healthy to move throughout the day, but it can also help students focus and become more engaged with the content they are trying to master. Due to the nature of English classes, ELA students often find themselves needing to sit to read or write for long periods of time. Therefore, finding ways to add movement in your English literature class is especially important. Here are some ideas for adding movement in the classroom.


10 Ways to Add Movement in your ELA Classroom: 


1. Walk and Talk - One really simple way to add more movement in your classroom is to place your discussion questions around the room instead of projecting or placing them on students' desks. In the top picture above, you can see that I printed off political cartoons from an Animal Farm PowerPoint and had a discussion question with each. Instead of projecting the PowerPoint and having students discuss each slide at their desks, I put them into 7 groups and rotated them around the room every 5 minutes. Not only did this help to keep the discussion on track time-wise, but it also got students moving. 



2. Literary Yoga- For a truly unique way to add movement in your secondary English literature class, try out Literary Yoga. This yoga sequence is meant to accompany any text and provide a much-needed brain break during long chapters. Yoga has many benefits for both the mind and the body, so this resource is designed to give students thinking time, promote mindfulness, and engage in kinesthetic learning. 



3. Socratic Soccer Ball- Here is another low-prep way to add movement on a whim when you see that students are unfocused or unengaged. I keep this soccer ball on hand and break it out when I want students to stand up, think critically, and refocus their energy on a task.  If you want a full set of 35 questions to write on your own ball, you can get those sent to your email by using the form here: 



4. Vocabulary Games- Games are a fun way to add movement in your classroom! For ELA specific games, here are some ideas from Melissa at Reading and Writing Haven: 

Games are by far one of my favorite ways to add movement in middle and high school classrooms. We play truth or dare, dice games, speed dating, three truths and a lie, and so on. I use games as station activities, practice opportunities, and review lessons. Students appreciate the opportunity to move around and be creative, and teachers are grateful for a meaningful lesson they don’t have to grade. Games bring vocabulary, grammar, writing, poetry, and figurative language to life! 

You can find lots of vocabulary game ideas from Melissa's blog post here: 5 Vocabulary Activities for Older Students   and for some more ELA game inspiration, check out Melissa's bundle here: ELA Games 

If you need even more vocabulary game ideas, you can also check out my post here: How and Why to Use Word Walls with Older Students 





5. Public Speaking Practice-
Certainly, students will move with public speaking activities. Because of the nature of speeches, students will be up, moving, and gesticulating. Check out these low-key and fun activities that will get students moving from Lauralee at Language Arts Classroom: Public Speaking Activities . In addition, if you want students engaged with teaching others, try this free public speaking activity where movement and tone influence the message: Free Public Speaking Activity for Tone 



6. Rotation Stations- Without a doubt, stations are another way to incorporate movement into the classroom. Amanda from Mud Ink and Teaching has compiled an awesome collaborative blog post with six great ideas for stations. You can read that here: 6 Ideas for Learning Stations in Your ELA Classroom 

To add, here's a note from The Language Arts Classroom: Movement can add spark to any lesson. For instance, when I teach informational texts, I use stations. Students and I will read an article together, and then they will rotate around essential questions. As a final step, students get to choose which questions they answer (three out of five), and as they walk, they actually are studying every question. Read more here at: Student Inspired Nonfiction Resources 


7. Question Trails- Abby from Write on With Miss G loves finding creative ways to incorporate kinesthetic learning into her teaching. Her favorite tried-and-true lesson is a question trail, an engaging activity that gets students up and moving on a quest around the room. A question trail is an activity comprised of different multiple choice “stations” or “spots” around the classroom. At each station, students answer a multiple choice question. Each answer (a, b, c, or d) will send the students to a different station. If students answer each question correctly, they will travel to each station and complete a full circuit. If students answer a question incorrectly, they will eventually find themselves at a station they’ve already completed, which tells them that they need to backtrack. This gives you clear, immediate feedback. You will quickly see who is getting it ("on the trail") vs. who is not ("off the trail"). If you want more information on question trails, check out this blog post. For print-ready question trails on literary devices, vocabulary in context, a fun winter-themed trail, and more, check out this growing bundle. To create your own question trail, check out this template that will save you lots of time.

8. Discussion Configurations- Sometimes just the simple act of having students get up and rearrange their seating can be enough movement to focus their energy on a new task. Amanda from Mud Ink and Teaching adds: Hosting a Fishbowl discussion is one of my favorite ways to get kids out of their seats and talking to each other. The basic principle of a Fishbowl, as each teacher’s format is a bit different from the other, is that students move from inside the fishbowl to outside the fishbowl freely during the period as they are discussing the issues at hand. Get started here! 


9. Writing the Wall- My students don't really write on the wall of course, but I do like to set up my classroom for impromptu uses of wall space when the time strikes. Instead of having students set idle at their desks, they can take their learning, opinion, or example to the wall. To do this, I set up two scrolls of newspaper end rolls (cheap or free!) and leave my whiteboard open on both ends. You can see a tutorial for how I made the scrolls here: High School Classroom Decor 



 10. Act It Out- When you have students act out scenes from plays or novels, you can bring any text to life (not to mention bringing your students to life in the process!). It doesn't take a lot of time to add acting movement in your classroom either. I like to do "mini-plays" in which I choose a short but very important scene, have students interpret it on their own, paraphrase into a script, and then act it out all in one class period. If you want a guide to help you implement this in your own classroom, you can check that out here: Act It Out!

I hope that these ideas will help you add movement, energy, and focus to your English Language Arts classroom. Be sure to leave a comment if you want to add any ideas to the list!