Thursday, September 18, 2014

Hula Hoop Venn Diagrams- Bringing Multiple Pathways of Learning to a Lesson

I haven't blogged in awhile. Teaching, parenting, and adopting two new dogs have kept me busy with other things. (All that and the return of football on the weekends!) Today, I wanted to share an activity I did with my 7th graders.

As a teacher, I am often faced with the challenge of how to spice up the learning. Sometimes, this comes easy. I scavenger the Internet or sites like Teachers Pay Teachers and find the perfect lesson that integrates the arts, or a simulation that works well with my students, or an idea that excites. Some days, not so much.

Today, my 7th graders needed to learn about the Minoan and Mycenaean cultures as we began our unit on ancient Greece. I had a perfect handout and worksheet to help them pull key information from the reading and a great chart to help them compare and contrast these cultures. But how could I adapt this lesson to involve more pathways of learning for my students? How could I help engage them beyond the mundane worksheet?

Well somewhere at sometime, I had seen an idea about using hula hoops for Venn diagrams. Lo and behold, there were some hula hoops in the P.E. closet and the P.E. teacher said I could use them. 

Students discuss similarities and differences
in cultures
Here's what I did. I distributed my hand-out and colored slips of paper. I assigned each color either Minoan or Mycenaean and told them to read the handout and write characteristics of their culture on the slips of paper. Then each student grouped with students from the other culture and used hula hoops to create Venn diagrams. We went around and discussed and what could have been a boring in-the-seat lesson engaged my students.

The kinesthetic learners got to get up and move. (And what 7th grader doesn't want to get out of his seat at least once during a class period.) The students had to use their interpersonal skills to discuss and work with others. The students had to synthesize ideas to find the points of comparison. Everyone had to bring something to the group for it to work and the students interacted and mastered the content. Win-win for everyone!

What I like best about this, is it is easily adaptable for many lessons. I may not use it again with this grade, but I can use it to spice up other lessons where the goal is comparing and contrasting with the other grades I teach. And you can use it too! 

Please comment and share other ways to use this lesson. Or better yet, let me know quick and relevant ways you bring multiple pathways of learning to engage and educate students.

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