As a first-year teacher, one of the most difficult things for me is to find ways to do hands-on activity, and to incorporate them into our academic goals.
In my experience, many of our High Road students have a lot of extra energy. This month we had a lot of fun being able to use the extra energy they possess to: 1. Create beautiful art, and 2. Build upon it with a writing assignment. Instead of traditional painting we purchased throw-able paint-balls, and let the students go to town with them on canvases. It was a little chilly outside, but the students had so much fun running around and creating their paintball art that the cold was soon forgotten. After returning to the classroom we discussed what our paintings looked, felt, smelled, we then got into the business of writing. Writing is something that my students struggle with. However, since the writing was based off of a personal experience and an activity that they had fun doing, it was more enjoyable than usual to start the writing process.
This activity taught me that an effective way to get students invested in the educational activities is to have them feel connected to the work. So often, the work we get from general education teachers, or even from our own material is difficult for our students to connect with. It was a joy, and an eye opener to see how the energy and the motivation that the students had changed when we did a different more personal approach.