Tag Archives: brain

Graffiti Walls Promote Engagement



Deep Thoughts Are a Work of Art!

During my daily browse through Twitter, I was struck with inspiration. I thought of a way to re-purpose the post-it notes that were being used during my lessons.

I started collecting them, assessing the work, and then putting them on my cupboards without any apparent plan.


Then I waited for the kids to notice.  Some started asking questions after a few days, others took a full two weeks to notice! It was fun to listen to them predict and argue about what I was making.



And the days we didn’t use post-its? Well, they gave me an ear full. They loved the novelty and sustained predicting, and they kept on me to assess their work and add it to the picture.

When Pacman was completed, they immediately wanted to know what I was making next.  I told them, “We’re doing a contest for student-designed murals.” They can’t wait!


Any ideas of other cool things to do with post-its?

Dispense a little Dopamine

Tara Brown is a must see presenter when attending a conference.  Her messages about teaching and reaching middle school students are dead on.  For me, one of her most memorable messages is that we need to be Dopamine Dispensers in the classroom.

If you have ever spent any time in a middle school during the last week of the quarter, you’ve noticed that the students’ stress-level is elevated.  I’ve decided to consciously plan for dispensing Dopamine this week. Here are a few ways I am combating student-stress:

Music – I start the music before the students enter the room, and I leave it running as they work on their Do Now.  (We even snuck in a twenty second dance party during last period.)

Memes – Kids love to laugh.  Memes are their language.IMG_3619

Kahoot – We have two quizzes this week.  To help students study, we are Kahooting.  If you aren’t Kahooting yet, you need to check it out!

Laughing Babies – I played a laughing babies Youtube video while the kids were getting set up for an activity. It didn’t take any extra time, and we were all laughing as we worked.

All of these were easily integrated into my lessons, and the students loved them. They appreciated the chance to relax and be kids. Rather than be distracted by their stress, they were ready to learn.

Here is a link to Tara’s website.  Check it out.

Grab Students’ Attention – Meme It Up!

Memes are a great way to add some novelty and humor to lessons. This year I created a Prezi that used memes to teach my classroom expectations.   IMG_3481
It was a fun way to share what can be a dry subject.
Last year, students created sets of memes that Romeo and Juliet would make. It was a fun way to show their understanding of character.


There are many meme makers out there. I use the MeMatic app. Try it. You’ll be hooked.

Grouping and Pairing Students For Engagement – Part 2 (During Class)

Students need to move and talk during lessons.  I am not a fan of taking a brain break simply for the sake of a break.  There are plenty of ways to mix things up to allow students to integrate their learning and give their brains time to regroup.

Here are quick ways to get them up, moving, and talking to each other:

1. Puzzle Cards – Pass them out while students are working, and then have them find their partner to share ideas or complete a new task.  I got a set of three decks at the Family Dollar.

2. Would You Rather? – Make a list of choices and have the students write their answers to reference later.  When it is time for a brain break ask the question and have students stand. (Would you rather be able to fly or read minds? Stand if you chose fly.)   Once you see who is standing you can group the standing students and move them to a corner(s) of the room, then group the sitting students.

3. Touching Chairs – Students stand and push in chairs.  Ask them to touch the back of any seven chairs and then freeze.  Once frozen give them a quick task to do with the people closest to them.  This one allows for regrouping several times quickly and provides much needed movement.