Friday, December 26, 2014


Arts integration doesn't have to be chaotic. Yes, sometimes a new experience in the classroom (dancing, musical games, a puppet show) can lead to chaos especially if it is exciting and/or involves a new class set-up and/or small group work. Giving students clear parameters and teaching them how to behave, can go a long way to reducing or eliminating chaos.

If a movement activity involves moving the desks, for example, run through the entire process first in your mind. Where will the desks go? What about the stuff on or hanging out of the desks? Will chairs stay with the the desks? Will students all move at once? Will they talk while moving the desks? How long should it take? What is their incentive for moving the desks in an orderly manner? What will they do after the desks have been moved? Etc. Set an easy-to-follow, step-by-step procedure and practice. For example:

Get the students' attention (see Attention Getters or Focus Activities)
Be sure that all students are paying attention. Don't go on until they all are.
Explain (briefly and without pauses) that we will be doing a movement activity, that we will need to move the desks, and that these are the procedures. (This procedure will require clean desks and a clean room, so you may need to first set a procedures for cleaning up the room.)

1. Put stuff away. Explain (very briefly) what this entails for your class.
2. Move desks and chairs. Explain (very briefly) where to put things. You can actually move to and stand and point to where you would like the students to put their desks and chairs. Be specific. "These five desks go here, lined up side by side," etc.
3. Sit on the floor. Or stand in a circle; just be sure to let to know what to do and how to do it. "Sit on the floor, spread evenly around this space, criss-cross apple sauce, and quietly. I'll know you are ready to go on when you are quiet."

Write the text in bold on the board and add a written time limit. Explain how you would like them to behave while transitioning (e.g. without talking or talking quietly, without running) and how long it should take. You might have to say "Don't go yet" a few times. Don't let them begin transitioning until you are sure they understand what to do.

Give a signal for them to begin. Keep track of the time. Remind them of the behaviors as they go if needed (if they already understand the instructions clearly, you might not have to do this). Help students with the transition as needed. Tell them when they are half-way there and when they have 30 seconds or so left. Count down the last ten seconds. (It doesn't have to follow the time exactly.)

Notice the three-step transition method (preparation, movement, closure).

Be sure to keep your instructions positive and make it a challenge rather than a chore. "Let's see if you can complete the transition in 2 minutes --- without talking or running. Ready. Go!" rather than "If you get too crazy, we won't be able to do the movement activity."

If they don't get it the first time, that's a good reason to do more of these types of activities so that they can practice appropriate behaviors.

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