Interactive Activities

(See also: Transforming Worksheets Into Interactive Activities)

  • Affinity Diagram - Have students jot down key ideas or concerns about a given topic individually on separate Post-it notes, then ask them to work together to organize the ideas or concepts into meaningful sets. Have them label each set.

  • Carrousel - Post chart paper on the wall, write a question on each page, divide participants into groups, give a different colored marker to each group, send a group to each paper, give them one minute to jot down answers to the question, then have them move to the next page.

  • Focus Groups - Divide the tasks into 4 pieces, send a "facilitator" to guide each small group through their piece of the task, pull the whole group back together for the finished product.

  • Four Corners - Provide a variety of readings or topics, form groups by favorites, participants discuss, each person shares the most valuable idea they are taking away from their group's discussion, no comments from others are allowed until everyone has spoken.

  • Grab-a-Word, Grab-a-Picture - Listen to, read, or watch a piece of "text" (an audio clip, statement, or video clip), and then from the center of the table, grab the word or image that you associate most closely with what you heard, read, or saw.

  • Human Graphing - Once participants have completed a multiple-choice survey, personality quiz, etc., and tallied their results, send them to different locations in the room based on their scores so that everyone can see the visual distribution/clustering of the people in the class.

  • Jigsaw- Divide students into groups (1, 2, 3, 4). Give each group a different set of paragraphs to read, a skill or process to learn, etc. When time is called, regroup students so that each new group is comprised of at least one member of the original groups (each group should have a 1, a 2, a 3, and a 4 in it) so that the representative of the original group can teach the information, skill, or process to the new mixed group.

  • Learning Centers - The lesson plan for the day is divided into 3 or 4 tasks. Students are divided into an equivalent number of groups. Each group has a specified number of minutes to complete the task at their station, then the groups rotate through the stations throughout the period so that by the end of the class period, every student has had a chance to complete every task.

  • Mixers - Students are given a task and must circulate through the room, talking with their peers who have a portion of the information they need in order to complete the task.

  • Musical Chairs - Questions or tasks are distributed throughout the room. Culturally authentic music is played and students are allowed to circulate through the room until it stops. When the music stops, students must quickly stand in front of a question or task and complete it on their worksheet before the music starts again. There is one fewer questions than there are students, so the student who does not make it to a question must answer a question or complete a task for the whole group.

  • Popcorn - Stand and say one word that you associate with the topic.

  • Power Teaching (a.k.a. Reciprocal Teaching) - Skip past the little song and watch the way this teacher provides small chunks of input in ways that engage students voices, bodies, and minds. Consider the ways this might be adaptable to a world language classroom.

  • Power Teaching - Think about the ways the techniques demonstrated in this video could be adapted to a world language classroom in order to provide students with small, functional chunks of input in ways that help them to process and remember what they are learning. Notice how as the video continues, students copy the teachers' voice in their responses

  • Power Teaching (facilitated by an 11-year-old) - An 11-year-old girl facilitates a critical response discussion to a peer's paper using PowerTeaching techniques

  • Problem-solving - Students are given a logic problem to solve and must work together to accomplish it. (Conversar sin parar is a great resource for this.)

  • Role Play - Students are given a situation and must then act it out in front of the class.

  • Rotation Review - Prepare a series of prompts or questions--each on a different sheet of paper. Number each page prominently, then post them around the room. Ask students to number their papers one through however many questions you have (you'll need one question per student). Play music from the target culture. When the music stops, students must find a sheet of paper, stand in front of it, read the question or prompt, and respond in the space on their papers that corresponds to the number of the question. Repeat every 30 seconds or so until students have had experience with a suitable number of questions. Debrief at the end by asking students to report to the whole class on selected questions. (If you do not feel you have space for students to move, you can have them place their desks in a circle and pass the questions on your signal, rather than moving to the questions. Sometimes, I include a "rest your brain during this rotation" card, or some other silly activity like singing a song or hopping around the room while conjugating a verb or some other thing that students can anticipate enjoying.

  • Scavenger Hunt - Students are given a worksheet with a list of information or objects that they must find, questions they must answer, tasks they must complete, etc. Students must circulate throughout the classroom, hallway, or school (with the permission of the principal) in order to locate the information or objects, answer the questions, or complete the task.

  • Signature Search - Students are given a list of questions and must circulate through the room until they find someone who can answer the question. That person signs the worksheet, affirming that if called on, they can respond to the question.

  • Simulation - The teacher sets up a situation (such as a market or a trial) and students are assigned roles to play to simulate how the situation might play out.

  • Skit Sacks - Small groups of students are given sacks with pictures and props in them (or envelopes with key phrases in them) and must create a skit from the items in a specified period of time

  • Snowballs - Prepare question sheets (2 questions per page with lots of space between the two works well--but each question needs its own number). Ask students to number a blank sheet of paper with as many numbers as you have questions. (For this activity, it is not necessary to have a new question for each student.) Make multiple copies of each question sheet (but enough of each one so that you can distribute them evenly throughout the class). Cut the pages in half, and distribute two question sheets to each student as you would with any other worksheet. It does not matter which questions students get--even if they are the same. Ask students to crumple up the question sheets and hold one in each hand. When you give the signal, they are allowed to have a "snowball fight"--but cannot throw at people's faces. The other catch is that after they throw a snowball, they have to pick one up, uncrumple it, answer the question in the space on their paper with the corresponding number, then crumple it back up and throw it before finding a new "snowball" to investigate. If a question "melts" in their hands (i.e. they uncrumple it) that they have already had, they simply crumple it up, throw it, and try again. To keep students more on task, offer a prize to the one who completes the worksheet first (and correctly), or set a time limit.

  • Surveys - Students (or the teacher) prepare a list of questions, circulate through the room surveying other students, and then report their results to the class (orally or as a chart or bar graph).

  • Think-Pair-Share - The teacher calls out a question. Students have 1 or 2 minutes to brainstorm an answer in the form of a list or a quick write, then they form pairs and share their answers (often working to come to a consensus).

  • Whiteboards - Teacher calls out a question, students write the answer on their whiteboards and hold them up for the teacher to check (or students collaboratively determine the answer in a small group and then the team captain holds the answer)

  • Whiteboard Variation - To review I sometimes put students in a group of 3 or 4. Each student has a piece of plain white paper (whiteboards can be used but I find that they draw and use up my markers too quickly and pay less attention! :) I have each one in the group write a number fairly large (so I can see quickly walking by) in the upper right hand corner. Start with the #1, then 2, then 3 (and 4 if needed). If class has groups of 3 and one of 4, I have the 4th person be an alternate for the other numbers. Now, I give the challenge question for review. Everyone writes it down on their sheet. They then have time to check with their group and correct their answer if needed. I count down and say Stop (Paren) and call a number from 1 to 3 (or 4). I have the numbers in my hands on slips of paper and randomly pull one out. I call that number and check that student's answer in each group. If the student's answer is correct, the group gets a point, if not, they get no points. The thing is, each group is engaged because they do not know which number I will call and they want the correct answer so their group will get a point. The points are nothing than them getting a piece of starburst candy before the other groups get their piece (I don't believe in making kids feel badly about "losing" or getting fewer points so I give everyone candy...within a pecking order sometimes). - jcmoran jcmoran