Lockdown means a lot of us have transitioned our work and classes online. Staring at screens all day can be very draining, for students and teachers alike - never mind the challenge of holding their attention! Sometimes, it's not about overcoming the challenge, but rather leaning into it.
If the class is inattentive and drained, it may be time to take a break and focus on managing well-being. The Top Blokes team has compiled a list of 5 activities to do during lockdown to improve the well-being of your students. These activities require very few resources and only a small space.
1. Physical activity
Physical activity is great for getting the blood circulating after some time sitting down. Let's throw a bit of fun into this! All you need is a shuffled deck of cards (also available online) and a small space. For each suit (Spades, Hearts, Diamonds and Clubs), assign an exercise. The number on the card is the number of repetitions. Draw a card randomly from the deck.
If the push-up exercise was assigned to the suit of Spades and a 7 of Spades was drawn, the whole group would complete 7 push-ups. If squats were assigned to the suit of Clubs and a 9 of Clubs was drawn, the group would complete 9 squats. All picture cards (Jack, Queen and King) are worth 10 and an Ace is worth 1.
If you like, you can make up your own motion to do for each suit for a bit of fun and silliness - you don't need to make them exercises.
2. Brain break
This is about giving the brain something else to focus on for a while. Scattergories is an awesome game to play with your students to have a fun break while also keeping the brain active and engaged.
Visit swellgarfo.com for a Scattergories list generator to begin the activity. You can adjust the time and number of categories as per your needs. Participants will just require a note pad and a pen.
The website will choose a letter (e.g. 'S') and present a list of random categories (e.g. 'country names', 'things you'll find in a grocery store', 'names of U.S. states', etc.). When the time begins, each student must try and write an answer beginning with the assigned letter for each category that appears (e.g. Samoa, strawberries, South Dakota, etc.).
At the end of the round, you can go through each category and for every correct answer, students receive 1 point. For every correct answer that nobody else has, they receive 2 points - this gets them thinking a bit more strategically too.
Whoever has the most points in the end wins. Google can be used to verify answers if needed.
Meditation can help ease stresses and tension and bring your students back to a state of calm and a clear mind. It can be helpful to have periods of the day where students can take time to unwind and clear their thoughts. This YouTube playlist has some free and short guidance videos that may be useful here.
If your class needs a bit more of an active way to wind down, yoga is another form of meditative practice and exercise that can help to relieve stress. It’s an awesome tool to take a break and release some of the stiffness that accumulates throughout the day sitting at a computer screen. This 10-minute YouTube video provides a good demonstration of some easy yoga positions that students could do.
Breathing exercises increase oxygen flow and productivity as well as being a good stress reliever. It's a fantastic introduction to the world of mindfulness, which brings its own plethora of mental health benefits. Give this 5-minute YouTube video a go, and think about making it a consistent part of the lesson.