To supplement the Resources and Materials pages, this page offers a list of activities that incorporate movement that are geared toward secondary and post-secondary students*. College professors, for example, often rely on traditional seated lecture to present information when college students may uniquely benefit from more active learning strategies. The transition from high school to college represents the sharpest decline in physical activity across the lifespan. College students report almost 30 hours per week of sedentary time, primarily a result of studying. Offering students in high school and college the chance to engage in movement and peer interaction during class may enhance learning preparedness, comprehension, and academic achievement.
*Many activities can be modified for younger students, as well.
Stand Up for Yes
This activity can be used to quickly gather information from a class; in answer to a question or series of questions, students stand up if they can answer yes. Students will remain standing for a few seconds to allow the teacher to observe the response rate, then be seated in preparation for the next statement.
- As a quick pre-assessment for an upcoming topic: “I have heard of hydraulic fracking.” “I could explain hydraulic fracking.”
- As a demographic inquiry: “I plan to graduate at the end of this semester.” “I am a junior.”
Depending on the content, it may be relevant to end with a statement that enables the whole class to stand. And, if possible, end with “If you’re standing, give someone a high five and tell them…” For example, if using as a pre-assessment strategy to introduce a new topic, the last statement could be, “I am ready to learn about hydraulic fracking,” and the high five statement could end with, “…and tell them ‘you’re ready to learn!'”
*Materials needed: Questions for inquiry
The Walk and Talk
The Walk and Talk is an opportunity for students to reflect on class content, dialogue with a peer, and break up sedentary behavior to ‘jump start’ the brain and body in preparation for continued attention. The teacher provides students with a question prompt related to class content and then releases them from the classroom to WALK with a partner and TALK about the prompt. Upon return to the classroom, the teacher then facilitates a discussion to reflect and recap.
- Review of content: “Review the five principles of sustainability and explain each in your own words.”
- Discussion of potential controversial issue: “Discuss pros and cons of pesticide use. Be prepared to share an opinion statement.”
Clearly, the Walk and Talk requires a classroom and building environment conducive to the activity. Depending upon the location of the classroom within the building, teachers may also consider offering differing length options: the stroll, the stride, the saunter. This allows students to determine the speed of their “lap” and provides some autonomy in the activity. College-aged students report appreciating the opportunity to move around, reflect on class material, gain insight from a peer, and engage in or listen to the discussion that occurs after students return to the classroom.
*Materials needed: Question prompt(s) for discussion
The Move and Mull
As an alternative to the Walk and Talk, the Move and Mull was devised to employ the same tactics in a space that prevents students from leaving their individual learning space. In a lecture hall, for example, it is not feasible for students to travel from the small area around their chair, which may be bolted to the floor.
For the Move and Mull, students stand, and discuss the prompt with three to five students in close proximity. While each student shares his/her initial thoughts, all students are stepping/walking/running in place. After each student shares, all members of the group will engage in five reps of a group-decided activity that is appropriate for the space (calf raises, squats, bicep curls, etc.). Upon completion of the peer dialogue, the teacher facilitates a discussion to reflect and recap.
See Walk and Talk for more information.
Carousel, so named because students rotate around the classroom, enables students to discuss in small groups a variety of questions or topics while reviewing peer responses. If financially able, use easel-sized Post-It pages and ‘stick’ one page for each question on the walls around the room. (Taped bulletin paper works, too!) Students will go stand by a paper with a marker. First, students will write their question/topic on their paper. Then, teacher will start the timer and the “rotations” begin. Depending upon the prompts, 1 to 2 minutes is appropriate at each paper. Instruct students to leave room on their paper for other students to respond. When the teacher indicates, students will rotate to the next page, read what is written, revise as desired, and add new responses. As the rotations continue, time will be spent more in reading and less in adding, which is appropriate. Once the rotations return to the starting point, groups will review all of the responses to their question that have been written throughout the rotations. Groups will prepare a single summary statement to address their question and present it to the class.
This activity is conducive to a set of questions, and also as a semester review. For example, if there were 12 main topics covered over the course, put up 12 pages. Students will write everything they remember about the topic. Presentations will then provide summary statements that cover all course content. (Click here for an example product from such a review session.)
- Student directions, part 1: Discuss and write responses to your prompt. (Be cognizant of space as other groups will be writing on the same page). At the 60-second call, rotate to the next Post-It, read the question, and discuss/respond with your group, adding thoughts to previous responses as necessary. You will repeat until back at your original paper.
- Student directions, part 2: Once back at your original question, review all of the responses on the page. With your group, generate a single “take-away” about your question. Be prepared to share this synthesis statement with the class in a 60-second presentation.
*Materials needed: Post-It chart paper (or bulletin paper cut to fit and tape), one marker for each group, a set of questions or topics with one attached to each page
This activity engages students in paired discussion with a series of different partners. It also enables the teacher to monitor progress because there is a visual indication when students have completed discussion with a partner – jumping jacks! This activity is simple and can be applied in a variety of situations. Students may share verbally, or share content from a personal assignment, or content from an instructor-provided document. First, students find a partner. Student A shares, then student B makes a thoughtful comment to indicate active listening and comprehension. Then they switch. When both partners have shared and responded, both will complete two jumping jacks. This indicates each is ready for a new partner. Each student will then locate another student in the room who has also just jacked. (Modified jacks are also allowed: both arms with one leg extended at a time.)
Two-jack sharing can be used in…
- Sharing about an assignment done outside of class: explaining a photo capturing a class application, summarizing and reflecting on a journal article, etc.
- Sharing a take-away from an instructor-provided document: each student gets a research abstract on the day’s topic to review
- Sharing thoughts on a question or prompt
*Materials needed: (depending upon use) handouts/cards for each student; individual samples of student work; question prompt for discussion
Like two-jack sharing, this activity pairs students for discussion or reflection. The first teacher instruction directs students to find a “toe buddy” – another student in class with whom to stand toe-to-toe. With the toe buddy, students exchange names and each answer a question or a prompt or share required information. When it appears students are winding down discussion, the teacher will provide the next instruction: high five your toe buddy and find an elbow buddy. This continues until all questions or information is exchanged (pinkie buddy, knee buddy, etc.)
Next, students will be instructed to find their toe buddy – the first student with whom they partnered. With this peer, each student will tell the other what was told to them. For example, student A will tell student B what student B said to student A. This reinforces the concept of active listening and provides another opportunity for discussion, especially if student B needs to assist or remind student A of his/her response. Depending upon time, students may rotate back to each partner to revisit the question/prompt/information.
- Buddy Up can be used in a variety of ways. It’s a great first day of class activity as it facilitates student interaction. It can also generate thought about the upcoming course or subject and activate prior knowledge. For example, in a college-level environmental health course, the first day Buddy Up prompts were:
- Toe: Share your name. Then share what you wanted to be when you were little and what you want to be now. (“I’m Sarah. When I was little I wanted to be in the Ice Capades and now I want to be an oral surgeon.”) -transition: high five toe buddy and find an elbow buddy
- Elbow: Share your name. How do you think the environmental affects human health? -transition: high five elbow buddy and find a pinkie buddy
- Pinkie: Share your name. What do you think your impact on the environment is (low/moderate/high) and why? -transition: high five pinkie buddy and find toe buddy
- Toe (again): Tell your partner his/her name and what he/she told you in the first round.
- Teachers can also provide specific content question prompts for discussion with each partner, offering reflection and critical thinking about a topic.
*Materials needed: Question prompts for each partner set
Activities will be continually added! Check back soon…