My first series is going to be on increasing student engagement in the classroom. Over the next several weeks, I'll share with you some strategies that I've found really increase student focus and motivation. At this point in my career, I feel like these are pretty sure-fire. When I see kids zoning out - or even (gasp!) dozing off, when I have a lesson that I need every kid to really understand, or when an administrator walks into the room and I want to "WOW!" them, these are the activities that I use!
The Graffiti Wall
The first strategy is something that I call the "Graffiti Wall," but I've seen it called all sorts of other things on the Internets.
Basically, you put large pieces of paper around the room with questions or prompts, and have the students travel in small groups and respond to them. (On this day, I was getting ready to introduce a new unit in our anthology, so all the questions/prompts reflected the big themes of the unit.)
As the kids travel, and the paper starts to fill up, they can begin responding not only to the question/prompt, but also to the comments written by their peers.
After every group has had a chance to write on each paper, bring students back to their seats and use their responses to generate a class discussion.
I love Graffiti Wall because it gives kids time to think-out and talk-through their ideas. In teacher-lingo: it gives them processing time. Don't we all function better with adequate processing time? Isn't our thinking better/clearer/"smarter" after we've had time to talk it out? Of course it is!
Have you ever tried Graffiti Wall? Would you ever? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this strategy!!
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For each strategy, I plan on making a reminder card for teachers to print out and keep handy. After this series is over, you'll have a stash of strategies on hand to bust out whenever you need them!
Check out all five of the posts in this series:
- Strategy #2 – The Scavenger Hunt
- Strategy #3 – Read-Around Groups
- Strategy #4 – Four Corners
- Strategy #5 – Collaboration Station