University of Connecticut University of UC Title Fallback Connecticut

Educational Resources

The following is a list of suggested activities to present a variety of content material across all grade levels:

  1. Jigsaw 
    • A way to share out information to the class in a time effective way. Each person within the jigsaw reads a certain section of the sources, and then summarizes it to the rest of the group. Then one person from the group shares out what information their group found to the rest of the class. Allows for a lot of information to be learned in a shorter period of time
  2. Think, Pair and Share
    • Student has time to think about a question or topic, and then gets to discuss with a partner or group before the class shares. Allows for a shy or nervous student to feel more confident in their answer when it has been justified by a peer.
  3. Simulations
    • Great way for students to physically learn about a group of people or a time period, instead of just learning through direct instruction. Engaging for all students, and more likely for the material to be understood on a higher level. Must be sure to tie clearly back to the lesson though, instead of it being just a “fun activity”
  4. Gallery Walk
    • Photos are placed around the room, and students have to go from station to station and answer a few questions. Can be useful to the show the progression of a topic throughout time.
  5. Debate
    • Allows for complex understanding and collaboration. The class is broken into two groups, and as a team they have to argue a certain side to a controversial topic. Planning time should be allowed for the information to be gained, the arguments to be shared out among team mates and the rebuttals to be created. Great way to encourage public speaking.
  6. Role Playing
    • An activity that can be used for a wide variety of topics. Each student is given a “role” or “character” that they have to play for a class period, or over several periods. A scenario is then played out so that the students can learn in an interactive way what it would have been like. Examples include a government scenario, the Civil War or the Revolutionary War.
  7. Exit Slips
    • A simple question at the end of the period for each student to answer that will be collected, and graded if wanted. Good wrap-up to a lesson, and check for comprehension for both student and teacher.
  8. Do Now’s
    • A question or activity that is written on the board for when the students enter the room. Allows for a smooth transition and should be made into a routine. Can be a “hook” to a lesson, a pre-test, or a review from a previous topic
  9. Guided Notes
    • Notes printed out with blanks that should be filled in by the students as the teacher goes through the information. Encourages engagement and ensures that the students are following along. Can be graded or used as a study guide. Be sure to allow for adequate time for information to be filled in.
  10. Comic Strips
    • Students draw a comic about a certain topic, such as the time that a subject was useful to them outside of school. Good for visual learners and allows for creativity and artistic talent to show.
  11. Journals
    • Students write to themselves every day/week about a topic, such as what they have learned, a paragraph using new vocabulary words, or any questions that they may have on material. Can also be used for students to go “meta” on their learning or a grade that they have earned. Good tool for teachers to gage student’s progress and thinking.
  12. Clock Buddies
    • At the start of the year, students find a different partner for every number on the clock, and then when pair work is required, the teacher can call out a number and that is the peer that the students will be working with. Allows for smooth transitions throughout the rest of the year when it comes to pair or group work.
  13. Personality Game
    • Questions are asked, and students have to move the side of the room that best fits their opinion. Great “hook” to a lesson and gets students up and moving and allows for discussions to begin.
  14. Interview Questions
    • Students are paired off, and ask a list of interview-type questions. Each pair then shares the knowledge they have just gained on their partner. This is a useful tool for the beginning of the year for the teacher and the students to find out more about each other and work towards an open, respectful and supportive environment.
  15. Entrance Card
    • Works like an exit slip but instead is used at the start of the class. Can then be used as a way to start class discussion. Allows students a chance to think and write down their thoughts, removing the pressure of being called on for an answer.
  16. Review Jeopardy
    • The Jeopardy game is adjusted so that each question is to do with a unit that has been taught. Great way to spend the last period of a class before an exam to go over the material, and for students to ask questions as the game progresses. Student are split into teams, and they take turns to have the opportunity to answer a question. The winning team may gain extra credit on the exam.
  17. Mind Map (Concept Web/Concept Map)
    • Key words or ideas are expanded of a main topic word on a poster-like display. Allows for creativity, can be used as a review, or expanded on over a unit, done individually or as a group, and can be guided by the teacher with an outline.
  18. GoogleDocs
    • Can be used for partner or group projects or for class collaboration. Need to be careful that it is monitored, and every student knows what is expected of him or her so that they do not become overwhelmed when everyone is typing. Might be a good idea just to use it for the sharing of information.
  19. Pictionary
    • Can be used as a review game. Students are split into teams, and they each take their turn going to the smart board to draw a vocabulary term from the unit. The “artist” is the only one that knows the term, and the “artists” team has to try and guess the term that is being drawn before the time runs out. Winning team can win extra points on the exam.
  20. Forced Choice Rank Order
    • Students will be given a set of terms, each term will be printed on a strip of paper. The student will then have to rank the strips of paper from most important to least important. This can be done individually or in groups. If done in groups, students have to try and convince their group members why they believe the strips of paper should be ordered a particular way. This will cause debate and the group must come to a consensus. Every student must be prepared to justify the order they have chosen.
  21. Attitude inventory
    • Have them fill out the attitude inventory at the beginning of a new unit and then have them fill out the same attitude inventory at the end of the unit to see how their opinions have changed about different issues.
  22. The Matrix Model
    • Create a diagram that has four quadrants to see their positions on certain topics. They must mark their initials in the quadrant that best represents their point of view.
  23. Silent Debate
    • Students will be paired with a partner. A debate question will be presented to the class and each student within the pair will argue opposing sides. They can only argue through writing, there is no speaking involved. The first student will have a minute to write down their argument. The second student will have a minute to write down their rebuttal, this will continue for numerous rounds, the time given to pose an argument may be altered.
    • Can help to articulate your ideas better because you are writing it down first. Forces you to take note of the important aspects, gets everyone involved, it can be used as a formal assessment piece. Helps develop writing skills, it’s a fun way to debate, and it can be really engaging. What are the downsides? Some kids may not write anything down. Before you do some new activity you have to model it for them. Make sure you pick the right question, try to get a 50/50 split.
  24. Minute to Win it
    • Students have one minute to draw a word association to an image that the teacher presents.
  25. Think Aloud
    • Have someone say what they are thinking as they read something. They must express their thoughts on what they are reading, whether it’s confusion, shock, questions, etc.
  26. Personal Artifacts
    • Have students bring a personal item from home to discuss in small groups. This can be an activity that you use as an icebreaker at the start of a class, or it can be focused into a specific topic.
    • Example- Bring in an artifact from home that could relate to conflict between people/war/movement of people/transfer of goods etc.
  27. Photo Narrative
    • Using visual images, such as photos, to depict an event, movement, or phase in history.
  28. The Group Work Roles
    • Each person is assigned a different role within a group: reporter, material supporter, presenter, etc.
  29. Planted Questions
    • Hand out numbered questions to all of the students, they will ask their “question” when it is their turn. This promotes participation and forces students to pay attention
  30. TTQA- Turn the Question Around
    • This is a term that can be used as a reminder for students to write in complete sentences. For example, “Don’t forget to use TTQA for every answer in order to receive full credit”. It allows a student to easily remember how to make their answer a complete sentence rather than just a partial sentence.
    • EX. What is the capital of Massachusetts?
      • The capital of Massachusetts is Boston.
  31. Silent Interview
    • Separate the students into pairs. Hand out a list of questions to each student. The students must then look at their partner and without actually asking the question, write down what they believe their answer would be. This is a good activity to make students realize that you can’t judge a person solely based off of looks, there will always be things that you don’t know. After the students have written down answers to all of the questions about their partner, they will discuss and see how many questions they answered correctly. Try to pair the students with people that they don’t already know well. Some example questions:
      • Was this person primarily raised by their mother or father?
      • Did this person grow up in an urban or suburban environment?
      • Does this person have any siblings?
      • Does this person like school?
  32. Stations
    • In this activity, desks are arranged into “pods”. Each pod will have a folder of documents which will correspond to a set of questions in a packet, which each individual student will have. Each station will contain different materials in their folders. Students will be broken into small groups, and will rotate through the stations, studying the material in the folder at the station they are at, and answering the corresponding questions. Although students are encouraged to collaborate with their group mates, each student is held responsible for having the answers written down in their own packet.
    • It helps if a timer is set up on the board so that students are aware of how much longer they have at each station.
    • This activity can be varied easily for each grade/subject. You can go from simple photos to intricate artwork, magazine articles to primary source newspapers etc.
  33. Book Groups
    • Break the students into groups and have each group read a different book over the course of the semester that relates to the same topic. Have the students periodically meet with their book group to discuss particular chapters of the book. Once the semester is over, have the book groups present to the class information about the book that they read.
  34. Interactive Map
    • Create a map of the United States on a bulletin board within your room. Offer blocks of time where students can talk about different places in the country that they have traveled to, this works best when it relates to what is currently being studied. Have the student describe the place and write their name down on a notecard. Attach the notecard to a piece of string and pin it to the correct place on the map. At the end of the unit/semester, students will be able to see all of the different places that their classmates have traveled to.
  35. DBQ
    • A data-based question, is an essay or series of short-answer questions that is constructed by students using one’s own knowledge combined with support from several provided sources. Usually it is employed on timed history tests.
  36. Skits
    • Skits are an interactive way for students to portray their knowledge of a topic. A great way to set up a skit lesson is to break students into smaller groups of 3-5. Students should have background knowledge on the topic for this to work well. Each group can have a particular topic which they are going to portray. For example; you are studying the pre-Revolutionary War Era. Each group will be provided with one or two diary entries of different people during this time period (British Soldier, Loyalist Judge, Neutral Merchant, Patriot Author). Each group must portray their character, and how they feel about the growing tensions between England and America in a 3 minute skit to be shown in front of the class. They will have 25mins to read through the material and prepare their skit.
  37. Ted Talks
    • Ted Talks are a great way to engage students on a variety of topics. They are often short, and to the point, and are a great way to use technology in the classroom. The people that are giving the talks are knowledgeable on the information. This is a great way to introduce a topic.
    • Ted Talks can be easily found on youtube, or on;
  38. Create a Newspaper
    • This is a great alternative to a multiple-choice test or an essay. Students can create a word document which is set up like a newspaper. On a rubric, you can have a list of requirements which must be present on the newspaper, such as; politically correct title, accurate date, important event coverage from that time, a political position to the paper, etc. Students can then channel their artistic side by adding things and arranging the document to make it look like a real newspaper from that time period. The final products make a classroom wall decoration piece!
  39. Line Game
    • Use masking tape to create a line down the center of your classroom. Have half the class stand on one side of the line and the other half stand on the other. Make a  controversial “agree or disagree” statement. Tell the students that if they agree with the statement, then they should step on the line, if they disagree, they should stay where they are. Then have a few students who agreed explain their reasoning and a few students who disagreed to do the same.
  40. 3-2-1