Keeping it Fresh: Raising Class Energy

By Justin Lim on March 7, 2010

As educators, our priority is to make sure that our students have the skills that they need in order to be successful in the future. In order to do this, it's important for us to learn how to meet students where they are at. Sometimes, this means changing the pace of the class with new ideas and strategies that will keep the "feel" of the class upbeat and fun.

Here are some ways that I like to keep things fresh in my classroom:

1. Learning Games - Last week I put together a simple, but extremely effective game that I used to do a cumulative review. All it took was a Powerpoint of the terms that we have learned so far and a little bit of enthusiasm during the game from my part. I simply split the class into two groups and made a competition of which team could identify the terms first. The element of competition and the fact that everybody was getting into it really motivated my kids to cling on to terms that they didn't know. Also, the fact that they were having so much fun was a huge bonus.

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2. Music - Sometimes I set an upbeat pace by playing energetic music as my kids enter the class. While they filter into the room, I try to greet each one of them by name. I've noticed that when I do this, the kids generally seem to be in a better state of mind. If possible, I try to find songs that have to do with the day's lesson. Shortly after the bell rings, I turn up the volume for a few seconds and then suddenly turn it down. The feeling is almost as though all the distractions have been turned down too and we're mentally ready to begin.

3. Debates - Class debates are a great way to encourage critical thinking and reasoning skills in a way that is engaging and fun. Though this may not strike you as the typical high-energy class activity (after all, part of the debate process is controlling how the arguments play out), debates can draw emotion out of your students, which can be translated into learning opportunities. You might consider strategically placing a debate right before a related writing assignment, in order to make both lessons more meaningful. Here are some downloadable resources that I've gathered from various places:

Download Debate Guide

Download Debate Worksheet

Lastly, for those of you who like Powerpoint, here is a website with templates that you can use to create games like Jeopardy, Who's Smarter Than a Fifth Grader, and Wheel of Fortune.

http://jc-schools.net/tutorials/Ppt-games/

What are some ways that you keep things fresh?

Warm regards,

Justin Lim

Rosemead High School

El Monte Union High School District

Comments

Justin

Great tips. I appreciate them.

And the games templates look fun! Can't wait to use them in class.

Communication and active learning have always been my favorite types of teaching as a student and in-class tutor. Classroom discussions, trips, group work, and presentations really do grab students' attentions and can help them focus. Your class sounds like a lot fun.

Hi Justin, Great blog topic - esp for those of us who are counting the days until spring break!

Thanks for the link to PP games. We play lots of diff games in all levels of my ESL/English classes. One of my kids' favorites is grammar or vocabulary basketball. I have recently added golf to the mix! Anything I can do to get my kids ACTIVELY engaged in their learning is a hit w/my crew!

I don't do this w/music, but a number of my colleagues do. They'll have '80s Friday or Beach Song Monday. The kids LOVE the theme days and look forward to them. I also use music extensively in my classroom. My favorite purchase was of TV theme songs. The kids know that it's time to finish up their warm-ups when they hear "Pee Wee's Playhouse." Music is an awesome classroom management tool.

Thanks again for a great blog! BTW, only 18 more days until spring break! :D

[Edit: Response]

Hi Lynn,

I know some teachers who do the basketball game, which seems to work really well!

I also like the TV theme song idea. I think I'm going to look into that!

Warm regards,

Justin

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