Monday, February 1, 2010

Out of Your Seats!

Purpose: Most of us can only sit for a limited period of time before our capacity to learn decreases. Some of us learn better using a multi-sensory approach. Plan at least one activity in every lesson where learners get out of their seats. In this way, you appeal to a variety of learning styles. All students will return to their seats more alert and energized. Here are two examples of activities that require little or no preparation.

I. Vote with Your Feet

Preparation Time: 5-10 minutes (to make signs the first time)

Materials: Make 3 signs for the classroom. Depending on level of students, signs read:
“strongly disagree”, “strongly agree”, and “neutral”
“YES”, “NO”, and “?”.

Preparation: Place the signs along a wall or at either end of the room with the “neutral” or “?”sign in the middle.

1. Make a statement to the class. For example, if you are studying months of the year and seasons, you might say: I love winter. Then demonstrate what you want the students to do, by asking for volunteers to place themselves next to the sign that indicates their feeling or belief about winter. Teacher or tutor also participates, perhaps picking a position that hasn’t been chosen. Now each person explains his/her opinion.
2. Demonstrate a second time if necessary, with a different statement: Driving a car in the winter is very difficult.
3. Once instructions are clear, ask the students to arrange themselves along the spectrum in response to a new statement.
4. Encourage them to explain their position to the others in the group. One person from each group summarizes the reasons stated.

II. Line-Ups

Preparation Time: 0

Materials: none needed

1. Ask learners to line up sequentially: by month and day of birth, by height, in alphabetical order by first name, then last name, or by dates in U.S. history, for citizenship students.
2. Depending on the theme or grammar focus, ask students questions. For example, use “before” and “after” to talk about months of the year or where individual students are located in line. Use the comparative and superlative to talk about who is shorter, who is taller, who is shortest and tallest. For history, match an event with a date.
3. Have students ask questions of each other or make statements about the line-up, using the appropriate vocabulary or grammar point.

Give each student a number and have them line up from smallest to biggest number. Students self-correct, then take turns reading the numbers, once the order is correct.


  1. Another variation that my beginning learners like to do is this: each student takes a word and they line up in order to make a sentence.

  2. Thanks for posting this! I totally agree that it's easier for most people to concentrate and get more involved when they're not sitting for long periods of time.