Wednesday, January 22, 2014


Teaching an 84-minute class to teenagers can be, well...boring.  84 minutes in one place can make anyone antsy, especially teens.

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
I left the one file that contained all energizers open on my computer, making it easy to project one at a moment's notice. 

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."
These are a few of my favorites.  How can you use or how have you used energizers in your own classroom?

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