9 Quick lesson activities
This activity really makes people think. It also works just as well with adults as it does with students. Tell students that they have just been arrested and charged with being an outstanding learner. What five bits of evidence would the prosecutor use to convict them? If there is not enough evidence, set them the challenge to accumulate enough evidence by the next court case in four weeks’ time.
Great way to pupils think about the learning identity and to set themselves some targets on what they need to do to improve all in a fun and engaging way!
Choose a letter/number
Ask the students to choose a letter from the alphabet and a number between 1–10. Then, based on their responses, get them to come up with the specified number of words that relate to the subject you are studying that all begin with that letter. For example, it might mean they have to come up with seven words beginning with ‘T’ that relate to war poetry or one word beginning with ‘Q’ that relates to sustainability. Either way it will make them think and have fun!
Ask the student to choose an animal from a farm or a Zoo. Then ask student to write any words from your associated topic that begin with the letters of the animal. For example, if a student chose ‘cat’ and you were studying the Romans, they might say, Centurion, Amphitheatre, and Tiles. If students try and spoil the game by just using ‘dog’ or ‘rat’ give them Triceratops by way of punishment. Watch how pleased pupils are with themselves when they think of their own animal and fit all the words in themselves!
Just a minute
Put students in pairs and give them a relevant topic. They have to see how long they can talk on that subject. Give your students some rehearsal time before showcasing different pairs in front of the whole class. Use non-performing students as an audience to pick up on repetition, deviation or hesitation. As a light twist, maybe ti could be a minute of mime or drawing?
Using part of the ethos behind Philosophy for Children, these are debate questions with no right or wrong answer. In his pioneering work in this area, Ian Gilbert coined the term ‘Thunks’® and in the little book of Thunks® offers examples for use in lessons. If I borrow a million pounds am I millionaire? Is it right to bully a bully? Is the hokey-cokey really what it’s all about? Students to create their own. It is a great thinking skill tool.
Get students into groups to create questions on a topic you have studied. These can then be asked by another group sitting on the ‘hot spot’. Rotate the hot spot groups whenever they get a question wrong. Award points to make it a competition.
Ask the students to create questions they want to know the answers to- the questions they are so frustrated by that they stay awake all night wondering what the answer is. For example, why is the sky blue? How is the bus timetable for the area worked out? When is your birthday if you are born on the first stroke of mid-night?
Rubbish bins gave you a £1 every time you put a piece of litter in them? What if door handles were made of chocolate? What if there were no such thing as time? Explore these and you might be surprised just what thinking and creativity skills you ignite.
Based on the Forrest Gump phrase, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates’ you can get students thinking without them even realising. Even better you can get them thinking without you being up all night preparing. Ask students to make a comparison between what they are learning about and another item, and watch them bamboozle you with some ‘deep thinking’:
The Second World War is like … a garden fork because …
Managing your finances is like … a treadmill because …
Quadratic equations are like … a fish and chip shop because …
(I will use this)
(I might use…