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March 7, 2010 Keeping it Fresh: Raising Class Energy By Justin Lim

    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.


    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.

    What are some ways that you keep things fresh?

    Warm regards,

    Justin Lim

    Rosemead High School

    El Monte Union High School District


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