Ever wanted to get students more active in class? You can ask them to get up and stretch, but what about stretching their minds at the same time?

Below you will find four activities that will get students out of their seats and contributing. These activities are not new ideas, yet they can be very effective. For help and resources for your active learning strategy download this PDF Guide.

1. Think Pair Share

get active with think-pair-share
Image by Oliver Tacke.

Think – Pair – Share is a cooperative activity in which partners privately think about a question, an issue, a situation or an idea. Students discuss their responses with each other and then with the class.

  • Involves all students actively
  • Enhances oral communication and listening skills
  • Serves as a non-threatening, low risk activity
  • Encourages reluctant participants
  • Helps build confidence


2. Placemat

placemat outline for 4Placemat involves students working alone and together around a single piece of paper with the goal of reaching consensus on a topic.

  • Creates a visual display of learning
  • Fosters group-work skills: sharing space, reserving judgement, listening and critiquing

3. Four corners

Students individually consider an issue and then move to a corner of the room where they join others who share the same attitude or preference. This is useful as a precursor to a debate or critique.

four corners
Keep your students moving and thinking.
  • Encourages creative and evaluative thinking
  • Useful for beginning a debate
  • Involves participation of all students
  • Requires oral expression
  • Stimulates discussion
  • Provides physical movement (keeps students alert)
  • Encourages appreciation of another point of view

4. Value Lines

valuelineValue lines is a thinking and emotions organiser. Students position themselves on a line which represents a spectrum of opinion or feeling on a topic.


These ideas and more can be found in Barrie Bennett & Carol Rolheiser’s  Beyond Monet: The Artful Science of Instructional Integration.

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