In order to combat fatigue, encourage team building, provide consistent review, and support brain-based learning, I used a number of "energizers." These were similar to "SPONGE" activities that were popular in the nineties. I also used the well-known texts, "Reaching All By Creating a Tribes Learning Community" and "Kagan Cooperative Learning" as inspirations. Each activity lasted one to five minutes, always involved movement, and resulted in beautiful, energetic chaos for a short time. Sometimes the energizers connected directly to the current unit; at times they were from prior activities or topics.
I used these activities:
- When eyes were glazing over
- When I needed to answer the phone or talk to an administrator
- Before teaching something that would require intense concentration
- When students requested them
- For transitions between activities
Keep in mind that these activities were used in a French class, but could be modified for any classroom.
My favorite energizers with ideas for modifications in other subjects and levels:
- Touch. List objects and colors; partners instruct their peers to touch items around the room, and commend them for correct responses. Modifications: Students touch various posters around the room, ask trivia questions and touch posted answers, practice giving commands, etc.
- Q & A. List questions and an answer word bank. Students stand in either a line or a circle with a partner across from them. Students ask and answer questions, and switch partners after a few minutes. Can be used for quiz review, getting to know partners, warm-ups, etc.
- Fake sports. When facing a partner, students pretend to be playing a sport, with an invisible ball. This seems strange, but it really helps the classroom to "gel," add unexpected fun, and leads to better learning AFTER the activity.
- Toy toss. Each group of four gets a stuffed animal, tossing the animal back and forth. When the music stops, the student with the toy has to answer a question. These can be fun questions, warm-up questions, or review questions.
- Mirror. In pairs, students mirror the actions of a partner. Dancing, miming, charades, etc. Switch roles.
- Who's the boss? Students give commands to a partner, who must follow the command. In lower levels of French, I would use items like, "Dance the Macarena." They switch roles. Modification: Students require a partner to review certain facts, "Name three planets in the solar system while jumping on one foot."