The most common feedback that we received from our professional development workshops is from teachers wanting to know more about how to activate some creative activities in their classrooms. We hear questions like, what are some great icebreaker activities to use to engage my students more? What are the best interactive and engaging activities I can add to my lesson plans to make my classes more engaging? Or which activities should I use when teaching different themes and concepts related to academic subjects to better resonate with my students? We hear you all loud and clear and we are excited to share a resource that we know will be helpful to some if not all of these needs.
For us, using activities and games in our lesson plans is the difference between our students memorizing the content versus actually knowing and embodying it, because it was introduced to them in a familiar way that allowed them to engage with the academic content more. We learned that the willingness of our students to engage has a lot to do with the students being able to see themselves in the work. Continuing to stay creative in the classroom allows us to witness activities like using drama, acting things out, or creating in other ways to help our students think for themselves more freely and problem solve more independently.
We also learned that many of our students are so afraid of being wrong, that if the lessons are too structured the participation and engagement decrease, due to students being afraid of being incorrect. These findings encouraged us to begin to pull back on the structure and nurture an environment that was more free and open. Oh, and we can’t forget to mention the growth we noticed in our students’ social skills amongst each other. When we include activities like singing, visual art, dancing, processed drama (acting), and other creative elements in our lesson plans it creates a space for our students to work together and support each other pretty organically. Gaming was another great way to nurture this type of learning environment.