February 2008
Vol 5 No 2

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Teachers.Net Gazette Vol.5 No.2
February 2008
Cover Story:
Rethinking Homework
By Alfie Kohn
Daily homework is the rule in most schools. Why not make it the exception?

Coaches Are More Effective than Mentors
Sources for Below Grade Level Reading
To Promote Responsibility, Elicit Rather Than Impose
The Busy Educator's Monthly Five for February
Filtering the Web: Mission Impossible?
Hot Tips to Stay Healthy; High Speed Sub Plans

Fighting "February Slump"
Make That Presentation a Winner!
Sports Done Right
Celebrate Dr. Seuss with Read Across America
Maslow - Alive and Well in the Classroom
25 Ways to Obtain Children's Attention
The Year of the Earth Rat - The Chinese Zodiac

Featured Lessons: February 2008
The Lighter Side of Teaching
Book Review: Three Cups of Tea
Video Bytes: NCLB, Whiteboard, and More
Creative & Critical Thinking Activities
Editor's Pick: Travels With Music
Apple Seeds: Inspiring Quotes for Teachers
Teachers.Net Craft Favorite: Picasso Faces
Today Is... Daily Commemoration for February 2008
Live on Teachers.Net: February 2008
Chatboard Poll: Do schools need to change, and how?
Preparing for Your Student Teacher
Newsdesk: Events & Opportunities for Teachers


The Teachers.Net Gazette is a collaborative project
published by the Teachers.Net community
Kathleen Alape Carpenter
Editor in Chief

Columnists & Writers: Alfie Kohn; Harry & Rosemary Wong; Cheryl Sigmon; Dr. Marvin Marshall; Barbara & Sue Gruber; Marjan Glavac; Dr. Rob Reilly; Barb S. HS/MI; Ron Victoria; Brian Hill; Leah Davies; Susan Rismiller; Hal Portner; Karen Hawkes; Emmy; Tim Newlin; Chuck Brickman; Barb Gilman; Grace Viduna Haskins

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Creative & Critical Thinking Activities for
the Middle or High School Classroom

Five creative & stimulating activities to use as warm-ups or time-fillers that will
energize and stimulate the minds of middle and high school students....

Posted by Emmy
On the Teacher Chatboard
February 1, 2008
I've used the Whip Around activity very successfully with my high school students - in fact, I've had classes that virtually beg me to let them have a Whip Around session. Pivotal Person can be fun, too. I hope these activities are useful for you.

  1. Whip-Around: The group sits in a circle. The leader offers a topic, then, quickly going around the circle, each group member offers the first answer that comes to mind. (Participants may pass if they can't think of anything to say.) Sample starting topics:

    • The best way to describe me is....

    • The thing(s) I do best is/are...

    • I dislike more than anything else...

    • What I hope for most in my life is...

    • The place I would most like to visit is...

    • My favorite food is...

    • I wish...

    • The color that would describe my mood (or personality) is...

  2. Word wizards: Put a word phrase on the board. In groups, kids try to think of as many words as possible that can be made from the letters in the word phrase. (Samples: United States, High School, etc.)

  3. Pivotal Person: Group sits in a circle. Inside the circle, two desks are placed facing each other. In one desk, the leader sits, role-playing as a character of his or her choice. (Explain beforehand what role you will play. Some ideas include a dishonest bank teller, a rude sales clerk, a famous actor/actress, a newscaster conducting an interview, a waiter/waitress, a teacher who hates kids, etc.) Then a volunteer sits in the opposite chair and interacts with the "pivotal person." The two exchange unscripted dialogue, while the group watches. When someone else feels comfortable, he/she comes to stand beside the classmate sitting at the second desk. The action then stops, the person beside whom the volunteer stood now leaves his/her desk, the new volunteer takes his/her place and the action continues. After a few minutes, the leader may step out, and offer the role of "pivotal person" to a volunteer who may entirely change the role.

  4. A Way With Words: Students sit in a circle. Teachers passes a blank sheet of paper to the first student player. Player "reads" what is on the paper. It could be a "Dear John" letter, a summons to court, a party invitation, etc. It will be up to each individual to invent a unique purpose for that piece of paper. As the group goes around the circle, it will become more and more difficult for each group member to think of a new way to "read" the paper.

  5. Pass-It: One person in a circle begins by throwing an imaginary object in a manner that suggests its characteristics: feather-light, bulky, hot, cold, prickly, slippery, microscopic, sticky, heavy, or whatever. The recipient would react by "catching" the object according to its "size," change its "size" and "throw" it to another classmate so that that person will know its "size." and so on around the circle.

More Gazette articles...