Saturday, January 24, 2015

Spark Student Motivation Saturday: Activity Center

If your classroom is anything like mine, you have a vast range of ability levels.  Just over a third of my class requires regular intervention, and about a fourth of them have mastered the lessons before I finish speaking.  The rest fall somewhere in-between.  Motivating the kids who finish quickly to do something productive, without making it seem like they are having to do extra work, can be a bit of a puzzle at times.  However, a few years ago, I decided to create an "activity center."  And I am linking up with Joanne today from Head Over Heels for Teaching to share this idea.

My activity center is next to the library and is stocked full of educational games and activities.  I rotate the available items to create interest and to include things that we are currently working on. Students know that when they finish their assignment, they are expected to continue to "build brain cells."  We spend some time in the beginning of the year talking about the importance of utilizing every minute in the classroom and that idle minds often get into trouble.  They get excited to know that they get to "do something fun" and I tell them that I am excited that they get to "do something educational."  It is a win-win situation!

Over the years I have managed to pick up a variety of games and brainteasers.  The Mindware catalog is a great resource (and I always price compare with Amazon.)  I inherited quite a few Marcy Cook Tiles cards and have continued to add to my collection as time has marched on.  I have purchased some games, such as Word on the Street, at conferences I have attended.  I also put out task cards and review activities/games that we have already worked with--they do go back to them quite often.  Here is a look at some of the things that are there right now:

I can honestly say that the activity center has cut down on behavior problems and the inevitable 6th grade cries of boredom--which makes me very happy.  

My giveaway is still going on for a few more hours....check out this post on Teaching Percents to enter.

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