Feel like your class is disengaged and/or bored? This atmosphere could be rooted in all sorts of problems, but one of the main causes is that you have students focused on the same activity for too long.
Based on research, your brain needs breaks from a particular learning-intensive activity in order to process and encode information. You should change activities in your classroom every 15-20 minutes if you want students to remain engaged and be able to focus and remember more. This is especially important if you have blog classes that typically go 90 minutes or more.
The main thing to remember about these breaks from intensive activity is that you don’t actually need a learning goal for them.
What? Gasp! You mean I don’t have to have a learning goal for every thing I do in my class?
No. Sometimes your students’ brains just need a break, a chance to re-group and re-focus and then get back on task.
Consider setting an alarm to remind yourself when you need to stop and do something different. Also, set a timer for the activity so that your “break” doesn’t turn into something that eats up the rest of your class time. Here are some ways you can strategically plan to change things up and give everyone a break.
Tell a story.
Make it in target language, silly, with lots of illustration and gestures. Comprehensible, short, and interesting. Bonus if it’s related to what your current goals are.
Think, pair, share.
Ask a question. Give students 1 minute to think about an answer, 2 minutes to talk it over with a peer, and 3 minutes to share in a small or large group.
Throw in a song.
Start building a lyrics file where you can use the Find function to locate a particular structure or vocabulary word. Yes, one vocabulary word is a perfectly good reason to give students a break and toss in a song.
Stop to do a game or activity of any kind that reviews vocabulary for about five minutes. It can be as simple as Pictionary. (But please, don’t make it a translation activity!)
Play a game.
Build your repertoire of quick games and activities that get students talking. Check out some of my ideas.
Show a video.
Take 2 minutes every morning to find some interesting video that’s trending out there in cyberspace and show students. Look on sites like television stations under categories like “lifestyle,” or Google/YouTube search videos with key words like amazing or funniest (in TL of course), throwing in a current vocabulary word for good measure.
How do you regularly change activities to keep your class engaged?
Foto credit: Abbey Hambright