Friday, January 6, 2012

Increasing Engagement with Little Learners!

Hi again, it's Jennifer From Empowering Little Learners and Simply Centers again and I am very excited to be coming to you again to talk a little more about increasing engagement with our Little Learners! 

Last month we talked about (dun-dun-dun) RIGOR and so to further enrich the conversation, here are some sure fire ways get kids talking and working together!  So here is just a plethora (yes I just used that word) of ideas and information so you can hopefully pick up something no matter what your comfort level! 

#1)  The Power of Partnerships!

Partners really help eliminate a lot of nonacademic and also help the kids to take more ownership of their time.  For example, instead of having one person answer, you could have everyone turn and tell your partner the answer.  If you are very new to partnerships, you may want to read this post for more on management of partnerships!   

So in my class we use Peanut Butter and Jelly partners, just because that is what I was required to do for so long and what I am used to.  There are however lots of other fun names for partners and guess what I did... I made them for you for FREE!  These symbols can be taped to tables (or where ever) or strung around string to wear when you are doing the majority of your partnering.  You want to designate students to a type so you can say "Hamburgers go first"  or "Hamburgers get the books, fries get the rugs!"  You can also purchase Name Plates that have these symbols on them from my TpT store!   (These are great and super cheap!)
If you are not new to partners - here's an idea that will get your kinders thinking more... one paper - two kids!  Your students will have to work together to solve and agree on the process to do so.  Talk about higher level thinking! 

#2)  Cooperative Learning (Two Games for the Price of Free!) 

Cooperative Learning is a sure fire way to get all students engaged!  So here is an easy and FREE structure you can implement called  Four Corners!  This is a game where students organize themselves into four groups depending on a picture card with an initial sound.  It's very simple and I am even going to give you the tools you need (well, minus the paper, tape, and well... kids of course!)

And of course, here are your game cards for FREE!  I provided M, S, D, and T because those are often the some of the first letters we teacher.  However, if you are comfortable, you can also purchase the entire alphabet from me in here in TpT store!

Already comfortable with Four Corners, here's a game you can play with those same cards called Quiz, Quiz Trade: 

Students are each given a card.  You can use flashcards or any sort:  alphabet, rhyming, numbers, addition facts.
Play music for about 30 seconds.  The kids walk around the room.

When the music stops, the kids all find a partner.  (Teach the students to put a hand up or go to the front of the room if they are having trouble finding a partner.)

They show each other their cards and the other partner must read their card.  Once both have been quized, then they trade.

Teach the kids to partner pyramid (each partner puts a hand up to form a pyramid) to signify they are done.
You start the music back up, kids walk around until the music stops. They find a new partner and do it all again!

You can do this with every concept and every age or grade level!  It never gets old and the kids have a blast reinforcing skills!
Again, you can play Quiz-Quiz Trade with the same cards as Four Corners! 

An extra note or two!
And just a note for all you Home Schoolers (which I envy dearly!)  I know you all meet sometimes (like at a local park.)  These games are great for varying levels of learners!  For example, have students walk around and trade only with the people the same height (and of course the older children will have to be responsible for enforcing it.)  Only problem - I don't have games for older learners, but there are MANY out there if you search around.   

I am afraid Home Schoolers  may not think Cooperative Learning is for you because maybe you have a smaller group of children (or only one) that you are working with.  Please look into the ideas and concepts because they are just good teaching strategies that you can always adapt to smaller groups or to one-on-one.  

And on a side note - The Cooperative Learning Books are AMAZING resources for anyone working with children.  If you ever have a chance to get one - DO IT!  Most activities can be brought up or taken down depending on the level you are working with! 
OK - I think that is all for now.  Please let me know if you have any questions or share any successes you have had.  Or maybe there is a strategy you use that others could benefit from - please share a link or comment below! 

1 comment:

  1. I love cooperative games ... thanks for your wonderful ideas and freebies, Jennifer! I just started a new Pinterest board and pinned your post:


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