Classroom Movement Activities: Walk Arounds
We had a short six-day mid-winter break this week, and it cut right into the last bit of my Pythagorean Theorem unit. Rather than go ahead with teaching the last section (rational/irrational numbers and decimal to fraction conversions) and then going straight to the test, I wanted to give my kiddos at least one full day to refresh on the concepts from a week before. The night before classes started up again I put together a new walk around activity, something my 8th graders always LOVE. (EDIT: I just put this walk around activity up on Teachers Pay Teachers if anyone’s interested in using it.)
What’s a walk around? Really it’s any kind of activity that gets students out of their seat, walking around the room. My walk arounds involve posters taped around the room that the students must visit in a certain order. Each one has an answer and a problem; the kids solve the problem, then find the poster that has that answer, where they get a new problem.
Here’s how my posters look:
Why teachers love walk arounds:
- It gives us a break from being up front teaching. Really, we shouldn’t be up front doing direct teaching all that much, but we all know that it has to happen, even with the most collaborative of curriculums. If you’re anything like me, being up front in the spot light all the time can be exhausting.
You have more time to work one-on-one with students. When the whole class is busy with a task, it opens up time to work specifically with students you know are struggling. I find that with math a lot of incorrect answers arise from just one recurring mistake, and this one-on-one time gives me a chance to figure out what it is for each student.
It’s great for reviewing concepts. Since most kids already know and understand how to do this, the majority of students are happily working away, and the stronger ones are also pulling the weaker ones along. So not only am I getting one-on-one time with kids, my stronger students are able to use their natural teaching talents on their peers as well.
Students are more engaged than normal. These kids get so excited when they see the posters up upon entering the classroom. I don’t know why for sure, but the level of engagement while they go around the room is just so much higher than when my expectation is for them to stay in a seat and work. It’s like getting permission to move keeps their brain focused. Today two of my more rowdy boys were having an argument, one of them overreacting loudly (something that is an ordinary occurrence between these two). But I had to laugh when I realized the argument was going something like, “I TOLD you we needed to use the radius!”
Why students love walk arounds:
- They get to be out of their seats. Enough said.
Actually I’ll say more. Getting to move freely for an extended time (we usually spend 30-45 minutes on these activities) is better to them than getting candy. They love the freedom of not only moving around the room but getting to pick where to start, getting a choice as to who to work with (usually, when they’re good), and moving at their own speed.
- They get to work with their friends (usually). 8th graders are such social people, this is the perfect activity for them to work on together.
They get more one-on-one help when needed. Just like I use the time to target my struggling students, certain students take advantage of the time to seek me out for help. I find it’s usually my medium-level kiddos who take this opportunity when it comes around. They want to clarify some of their thinking or just be reassured they’re doing things correctly. And my kiddos who aren’t comfortable being seen getting help are getting their one-on-one help from a trusted friend.
They aren’t being talked at. Just like teachers don’t like doing all the talking all the time, students don’t like doing the listening all the time. It’s a nice break to get to put new learning into practice, to talk things through with each other, and even to argue with another peer about the correct way to do something.
I’ve got several other movement activities that we use occasionally, but the walk arounds always seem to be the one type of activity that never fails. Some other activities get the kids a little too wired to focus, even if they are a ton of fun (hello, human battleship, I’m looking at you).
What are some movement activities that you remember doing in school?