“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” - Benjamin Franklin
Like the legend said involvement is imperative to make student learn and keep engaged them in learning thoroughly. Hands-on learning is a great way to apply a twist to traditional course content and engage students on a deeper level. Such classroom activities are helpful as they not only engage students in the academia but also help them to develop some of the essential skills also known as 21st Century Skills. These skills are Problem solving, Creative, Critical & Analytic thinking, Collaboration, Communication Ethics, action, & accountability and Digital Citizenship.
In this post, I’ll be talking of classroom activities for Creative Thinking, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Entrepreneurship, and Inquiry Based Learning/Student Engagement which will help students to develop all the 21st century skills mentioned above (Except Digital Citizenship: that’s for the next time).
Creativity is when a person is being able to come up with different ideas. Although many speak of it as a natural phenomenon, I think if done rightly we can help students develop and explore the creative side to them. Creativity doesn’t just happen. It needs to be cultivated. Creativity can be Allowed, Encouraged, Displayed, Recognized and rewarded, Developed and Discussed.
Activities mentioned below are to promote Creativity within your classroom.
- Think-Pair-Share: This activity is a great way for students to be able to pause and process what they have just learned. Ask the class a question that they must first consider by themselves then give them the opportunity to discuss it with their neighbor. Once they’ve discussed the question, students are then open to share their answers with the class. By giving them this time, you are enabling them to be more engaged in their learning
- Gap Fill In: Students are shown a picture, projected in the front of the room, if possible. At the top of their paper, students should write: "What is happening in this picture?" At the bottom of the page, they should answer with what they believe is happening in the photo simply in 1-2 sentences or according to the age/grade this activity is being done with.
In the middle of the page students write down all of the steps they took to arrive at that answer. Students are encouraged to write down the evidence they see that supports their conclusion.
This activity not only uses evidence, but supports Meta cognition skills by asking what prior knowledge brought you to your conclusion. This is a good activity to Bell Work or "Do Now."
- Reader’s Theater: In groups, create a dramatic script based on the ideas within a given text. Do not script word for word. The idea is to get off the page and represent the idea in the students’ own words.
- Big Paper-Building a Silent Conversation: Writing (or drawing) and silence are used as tools to slow down thinking and allow for silent reflection, unfiltered. By using silence and writing, students can focus on other viewpoints. This activity uses a driving question, markers, and Big Paper (poster-sized is best). Students work in pairs or threes to have a conversation on the Big Paper.
Students can write at will, but it must be done in silence after a reflection on the driving question. This strategy is great for introverts, and provides a readymade visual record of thought for later.
Group Based Learning helps students develop many essential skills such as collaboration, cooperation as well as helps them come up with different ideas. Listed below are activities to promote Group based learning among students.
- It’s a Mystery: Many children (and grown-ups) enjoy a good mystery, so educators must design one that must be solved cooperatively. Give each student a numbered clue. In order to solve the mystery — say, the case of the missing mascot — children must work together to solve the clues in order. The “case” might require them to move from one area of the room to the next, uncovering more clues.
- Case study: Create four to five case studies of similar difficulty.
Have students work in groups of four or five to work through and analyze their case study.
Provide 10-15 minutes (or adequate time to work through the cases).
Walk around and address any questions.
Call on groups randomly and ask that students share their analysis. Continue until each case study has been addressed.
- A Shrinking Vessel: This game requires a good deal of strategy in addition to team work. Its rules are deceptively simple: The entire group must find a way to occupy a space that shrinks over time, until they are packed creatively like sardines. You can form the boundary with a rope, a tarp or blanket being folded over or small traffic cones.
- Go for Gold: Teams have a common objective, but instead of each one having the same materials, they have access to a whole cache of materials. For instance, the goal might be to create a contraption with pipes, rubber tubing and pieces of cardboard that can carry a marble from point A to point B in a certain number of steps, using only gravity.
- Minefield: Another classic team-building game. Arrange some sort of obstacle course and divide students into teams. Students take turns navigating the “mine field” while blindfolded, with only their teammates to guide them. You can also require students to only use certain words or clues to make it challenging or content-area specific.
Activities for Critical Thinking Skills on next page..