Over the past few years, I have struggled and struggled with my students on their innate desire to stand up at the end of class.
I would make an almost daily reminder that they need to stay in their seats until the bell rings. I would get frustrated that just as it seemed that the procedure would “stick,” it would slowly start to unravel if I wasn’t on top of reminding them.
Finally, I started to ask my students why they liked to stand up so much. They said, “Ms. B, we are sitting ALL DAY. It feels so good to stand up and stretch!” Hmm…I reflected…they DO sit down nearly all day. Yes, they get four minutes for a passing period, and yes, they get movement built into many of their classes, but for the most part, they are sitting for a good chunk of their day.
I decided that instead of fighting my students’ urge to stand, I should EMBRACE it. What if I planned out some exit activities that were movement based? I’ve compiled a list of 13 exit activities that build movement in. These activities are designed to take between 2-5 minutes, but can be easily adapted to fit a space of longer or shorter.
Review of Day’s Lesson
- Post the day’s standards, I Can statements, activities or concepts on posters around the classroom. Each standard/I Can, etc. will have a separate poster and will be placed with enough space from the other posters to allow for students to “flock” to.
- Ask students to “flock” to a standard based on one of the following criteria (depending on what you would like to use in class):
- Flock to a standard that they connected with
- A standard they improved on
- A standard that they enjoyed
- A standard that they still need work on
- This is a play on the alphabet-based exit tickets. Instead of choosing a magnetic letter (or another seat-based variation), post the letters A-Z around the classroom. Depending on your wall space, you could potentially have the letters posted year-round, ready to go for this activity.
- Students should stand next to a letter on the wall. Each student should stand next to a unique letter, unless you have more than 26 students. If that is the case, you could have blank letters up, you could ask students to pair up, or you could have duplicates of commonly used letters.
- Students should share a word that starts with the letter they are standing next to. The word they share should relate to the lesson from the day. If students have a difficult time coming up with a word that starts with their letter, you could adapt the activity to share a word that has the letter in it.
- Post blank sheets of paper around the classroom. Students should form groups around each blank paper and sketch a drawing that reflects the standard(s) covered for the day. Depending on time, students can share their drawing with the class, rotate around the class to look at others’ drawings, or save their drawing to share for bell work the next day.
A / B
- Create a series of questions on a slideshow. For each question, label the answer choices A and B. For example, if you are studying independent and dependent clauses, “A” could be “independent” and “B” could be “dependent.”
- After showing the question, ask students who think the answer is “A” to stand, and those who think the answer is “B” to stay seated. Get through as many questions as you can until the bell rings.
- Students get into small groups. Post a vocab word on the board. Students get 60 seconds (or more time, depending on your class) to come up with a short skit or dialogue exchange to demonstrate the vocabulary word. The skit could be 2 lines long — it doesn’t have to be elaborate. The skit or example just needs to show understanding of the vocabulary word.
- Each group provides its example to the class.
- Variation: Choose 3 students to be the judges. After deliberating (quickly), the judges get to call forward two groups to complement, and then they choose one winner and explain why.
- Place a set of vocabulary flashcards at stations around the room. (Check out this set of blank flashcards to use for this activity.)
- One person will be the group leader, holding of the flashcards, and the other group members will line up in a single line, facing the leader.
- The leader will show the first flashcard to the first person facing him/her in line.
- The person answers, and runs to the back of the line. The next flashcard goes to the next person in line, who answers and runs to the back of the line.
- The first group who gets all group members through with no errors, rings a bell, a buzzer, or shouts out, designating them the winners.
- A judge from the opposing groups will be monitor each group, making sure they answer each flashcard correctly.
- If you would like, you could have a “key” ready for the judges to ensure they know if the answers are correct or not.
- Modification: You can offer each group a certain number of “phone-a-friend” options, where they can ask the group for help, making sure they don’t break their group’s “streak.”
Greek/Latin root review
- Have all students stand up at their desks or stand against the walls of the classroom.
- Post a Greek or Latin root on the board.
- The first student (you decide where the line starts) should say the definition of the posted root.
- Continue down the line, with each student saying a word that contains that root. The first student who can’t come up with a word that contains that root has to sit down.
- When the student (who can’t think of a root or definition) sits down, post the next root, and the process will start again (definition, example, example, example, etc.).
- Continue until there is only one student left standing.
- Example: Post the word “dict.” The first study says “speak or say.” The next student in line says “dictionary,” the next “contradiction,” the next “diction,” the next “ummm…” and that student sits down. The next student in line will get a new root word – for example, “bene.” The process continues until only one student is left standing.
- Variation: If it is too disruptive for students to sit down at their desks, you could have all students line up against the walls and take one step forward. Instead of sitting down when they can’t come up with a word, they could take a step back and put their backs against the wall. The last person who is NOT against the wall is the winner.
A / B
- Use the A/B activity (described in the previous section) with vocabulary words.
- Definition: Post a definition with two potential choices of answers. Students stand if they think the answer is “A” or stay sitting if the answer is “B.”
- Connotation: Put a word on the board that has a positive or negative connotation. “A” will stand for “Positive” connotation, and “B” will stand for “Negative” connotation. Repeat the stand/sit for “A” or “B” (as described above).
- Context Clues: Put a sentence on the board with an unknown word underlined. Students should use context clues to figure out the meaning of the word. For the “A/B” option, you could have “A” listed as one definition and “B” as another. Or, you could have “A/B” be potential synonyms for the word, and the students will have to decide which synonym most closely matches the underlined word.
- Post pictures of a graph on the walls around the classroom. A great resource for finding graph’s is Turner’s Graph of the Week.
- Ask students to form a group around a picture. In groups, students should discuss the graphs.
- Here are some guiding questions:
- What is the subject of the graph?
- Does the graph have a key? What are the elements of the key? How is each element marked?
- What do you notice about the graph?
- Do you notice any trends? What might account for that trend?
- Do you notice any breaks in a trend? What might account for the break?
- Students should discuss in their groups and share their observations with the whole class, depending on time.
- As a variation to whole-class sharing, you could ask each student to point out something new about the graph. Go around the class, making sure each student gives a new comment (no one can repeat a previous observation). The activity will get harder and harder as the “easy” details are given first.
- Post quotes around the classroom. If you’re looking for quotes, check out BrainyQuote or one of these books: 1001 Smartest Things Ever Said, The Ultimate Book of Quotations, and Greatest Inspirational Quotes.
- In groups, students should discuss the quotes.
- Here are some guiding questions:
- What is the quote’s central idea?
- What are some examples from today’s society that demonstrate this quote’s message?
- What are some examples from history that demonstrate this quote’s message?
- Have students get into groups around the classroom.
- Each group should have a set of words or phrases that they will sort. They can sort them on the wall (with poster tack or velcro strips) or on a desk. Students can sort them into their own categories OR you can provide specific categories for students to sort the words into.
- In addition to sorting words, students can also sort processes or timelines.
Line the walls
- Have all students stand against the walls of the classroom (forming a loose circle).
- After asking or posting a question, ask students who agree to take a step forward. This way, students can see who agrees and who disagrees. You could then ask students to support their opinions with reasoning.
- Have students step back against the wall when you are ready to ask the next question.
- If you want to create an additional category (agree, disagree, and it depends), you could have those who agree take two steps forward, those who say it depends, take one step forward, and those who disagree could stay against the wall.
- Depending on time, you could ask a string of questions right in a row, with students stepping forward and back until the bell rings.
- Pose or post a question. Students need to find a person who has the opposite opinion. Once students are paired up, they should each discuss their reasoning.
- For topics where the opinions are more one-sided or unbalanced, students can form larger groups of like-minded students first, and then find an opponent.
- To get a sense of the balance of opinions, you could start with “Line the Wall,” as described above, and then pair up from there.
For a list of argumentative topics, check out the New York Times article: 401 Prompts for Argumentative Writing.
Do you have other exit activities that work well in your classroom?