Kids Want to Move

I walk down the hall during my open period and I see students in classrooms taking notes and sitting. They are often told to be quiet, pay attention, and do as teachers say. I’m also guilty of this: “Come on you guys. I need you to quit talking and get these vocab words copied.” I know, I know. That’s not the most effective tactic.

Students are forced to sit quietly in the majority of their classes. From my experience with observation hours, sitting gets really boring really quickly. I learn best when I get to work with things and move my body which energizes my mind.

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Many students are the same. In fact, I asked students what their favorite subjects are and they said shop, PE, or science, all classes that require students to move, explore, build, construct, and be engaged.

I’ve been teaching the sophomores Romeo and Juliet. The first week they acted out the scenes. They loved it; they begged me to act out all of the scenes. When we covered Act IV , I asked students to create the tomb scene that Juliet speaks of in her soliloquy (vocab word!).

I said, “I was thinking we could use dry erase markers for bones…”

The students yelled, “I can make bones!!!”

Two students enthusiastically wadded, rolled, and taped recycled paper to make white bones.

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I asked other students to recreate the tombs with shrouds (vocab word!). I asked another student to be the photographer for our classroom website and handed him my ipad. Other students acted as directors: they wanted new bodies to be downstage (vocab word!) and old bodies and bones to be upstage (vocab word!). They said the lights should also be off because the tomb would probably be dark.

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I could tell that they understood what the text was saying. They understood the context of Juliet’s speech. They accurately related stage props to the mood of the text.

I was so proud of them.

We set the stage and then read Juliet’s soliloquy again. They said it was super creepy, watching it and hearing it read aloud. It brought new life to the text.

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We circled up to debrief after the activity. A healthy debate arose when we started talking about Juliet’s decision to drink the concoction Friar Lawrence gave her. Students were standing, moving; they were engaged. They had a sense of ownership in the scene, and it seemed like they cared about the text.

When class was over, students asked if we could do this kind of stuff more often. They want to move and be engaged. They want to play and explore.

We just have to let them. 

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