As an ELA teacher, I often face the challenge of having students stare at screens all day. Their books are available on Curriculet, and they can work on graphic organizers that I supply for them on Google Drive. Thus, how do I avoid falling into the “stare at screens all day” trap?
My latest discovery is to have them engage in station rotation.
Recently in ELA, I had them examine some major themes of Macbeth (evil, superstition, gender roles) and I gave each group a poster paper with various characters or ideas (Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, setting). Students had to write down events or quotes from the story that connected their topic to the major themes. They had three minutes to do this. After three minutes, they had to go to the next group and do the same for the next character or idea. They did thus until they had circulated throughout the room.
This way, they were all engaged in each topic, but one at a time. They also had a chance to see what other students had done. Perhaps most importantly, they were able to engage with the text, but to do so in a manner that got them up and out of their seats.
In social studies, we are learning about the Alien and Sedition Acts, a major government overreach by the John Adams administration curtailing individual rights and liberties. I had students come up with an alternative plan for John Adams to deal with the war between France and Great Britain in the 1790s. After they had created their plan using a “forced ranking,” which is a gamestorming strategy ranking the most effective strategies possible, one student from each group stayed at the group to articulate the strategy, while everyone else went from group to group listening to each group’s strategy. Once again, they were able to hear everyone’s ideas while also getting out of their seats and moving around.
The more I can get them up and out of their seats, the better.