Get Them Up and Moving! Four Strategies to Keep Students Actively Engaged

Get Them Up and Moving! Four Strategies to Keep Students Actively Engaged

At an educational conference I attended several years ago, the speaker, Pat Wolf, shared information about brain research and mentioned that, as a field, we should learn more about how the brain works. She pointed out that the brain is the largest consumer of oxygen and glucose in the human body, and as such, the brain needs oxygen and glucose-rich blood to function more effectively and efficiently.

One way we can help provide students with oxygenated and glucose rich blood is through movement and hands-on activities in the classroom. Movement strategies help keep students engaged in the learning process and can show student action towards the learning goals.

The following are four tried-and-true movement strategies that you can adapt for use with your students.

Find Someone Who…

Students stand up and find someone in the room who has a similar, named characteristic, such as shoes, garment, same or adjacent birthday month, or a number of siblings. This can be used as a way to find a partner for a discussion, for peer editing, or for a project/classroom activity.

4 Corners

On cue, students move to one of four corners of the room based on specific criteria (last name begins with A-F, G-L, M-R, S-Z; birthday month; agree/disagree with a topic, etc.) Once there, students discuss a particular topic or engage in an activity.

Pair Up, Square Up

Students read a text and have a 3–5 post it notes or annotations to place on key ideas in the text or on a graphic organizer. Students work with a partner to come to consensus on the 3–5 key points. Then each pair then finds another pair to make a “square”. The two pairs then share their ideas and come to the group consensus on the final most important 3–5 key ideas. 

Question Toss/Snowstorm

Each student writes a question on a piece of scratch paper (or is provided a question by the teacher). The students “toss” the questions to the middle of the group or a specific area of the room, creating a “snowstorm.” Each student then selects a paper, reads the question, and responds/answers the question.

As professionals, we know the importance of keeping our students actively engaged. Through movement activities, we can help students both have fun and move towards meeting the lesson objectives.


Author bio

Erick Herrmann

Erick Herrmann, Educational Consultant

Erick Herrmann is an educational consultant with Teacher Created Materials. He has taught at the high school level as a Spanish teacher and Title VII coordinator, elementary literacy and ESL teacher, and served as a Teacher on Special Assignment. He is deeply committed to high quality instruction for all students, and enjoys sharing effective, engaging instructional strategies that teachers can immediately use in their classrooms.