If you’re a kid who can’t sit still, you get into a lot of trouble in elementary school. Kids like that often drop out, or fail to graduate with the classes and grades required for further training. To catch themselves up, they come back to adult literacy, ABE and GED programs, but they are still people who have a hard time sitting still!
Unfortunately for them, and for us who teach them, the cheapest and most readily available material for adult students often requires a lot of sitting still in front of a workbook of some kind or in front of a screen.
However, almost any activity for skills practice can be turned into something that has a physical component, with a little imagination. I’ve written about some examples with human digits and the number line and reading on your feet.
Any matching question is ripe for conversion into a physical exercise. Some examples: words to be matched with their definitions; words to be matched with their opposites; equivalent fractions; names of characters in a story to be matched with words that show their relationship to other characters (e.g., “George” to be matched with “Marian’s father”).
It’s easy to do:
- Enlarge the items to be matched.
- Cut them apart.
- Give one item to each student.
- Ask students to move around the room, looking for their match.
- When all have found a match, ask each pair to read their items to the whole group.
You will have to do a little juggling as you give out the items, to make sure that everyone gets one item that will match up with someone else’s. Always a last-minute decision, depending on how many people are there that day.
Like matching exercises on a page or a screen, if you make a mistake early on, everything gets messed up. So if most people have matched themselves up, but two or more people cannot find a match, that is a sign that some people who are paired up are not correctly matched. Ask everyone who is matched to split up, and start again.
Watch what happens as people look for their match: movement, talking, comparing, asking, explaining. All of the advantages of social learning. You get to watch where people are sure of themselves, where they are making mistakes, and what their strategies are.
All of this, and no marking!