10 Essential Student-Centered Learning Activities Every Teacher Should Know

Here are 10 activities that will take the spotlight off of you and put it on your students, where it belongs.

1. Cubing. 

Teachers create a three-dimensional cube with language prompts on each of the six faces. For example, summary, opinion, compare, text-to-self, perspective, questions. Can be completed in groups, with each student completing a different prompt (a variation would be dividing the prompts between groups), or individually. Prompts can be chosen randomly (for fun), by the students (to promote choice), or by the teacher (to facilitate multiple intelligences).


2. Language Experience Approach.

Students use English to describe a shared experience. This could be a birthday celebration, for instance, or a graduation ceremony. Procedure:

  • Student has experience.
  • Student tells teacher about experience.
  • Teacher writes down what student says, word for word.
  • Teacher reads words while pointing at them.
  • Teacher and student read together.
  • Student reads.
  • (A variation is to do it as a whole class, with the teacher writing down what different students say on the white board.)

3. Inter-class Pen Pal Program.

Students write letters to students in another class using language structures being studied. For example, teenagers studying dilemmas write a letter about a real dilemma they’re facing to teenagers in another class, who write back giving advice. A variation would be to have the teenagers write to elementary kids, and vice versa.


4. Web Quests.

Students are presented with a problem that they must solve by finding information on the internet. This problem is usually relevant to their lives and promotes higher-order thinking. A website is created by the teacher with all the steps necessary to complete the Quest. For a Web Quest tutorial, click here.


5. Mix and Match.

Similar to I Have Who Has, only with movement. Teacher prepares a set of paired cards, i.e. question & answer, word & definition. Cards are distributed to students (one student one card), who then move around the classroom switching cards until the teacher yells “Freeze!” Students then find their matching card and stand off to the side. Mix again and repeat.


6. Placemat.

A large sheet of white paper with a placemat template is given to a group of 4 students. Students are given a topic and must record their thoughts on their section of the placemat. When they finish, they must write a summary of their thoughts in the center. Then, share with the class. A topic might be something like the effects of smoking or making a definition for a new vocab word.


7. Send a Problem.

Teacher makes a list of problems based on material being studied. Each problem is taped to the outside of an envelope and passed out to groups of students. Groups write down 2-3 solutions to the problem, then put them inside the envelope. Envelopes rotate and the process repeats until groups have seen every problem. The last group reads all the solutions inside the envelope, ranks them on chart paper, then shares with the class.


8. Choice Boards.

Teacher displays a 3 x 3 grid with different activities for the students to choose from. Students select one row, column, or diagonal set to complete, and initial those boxes. For example: 

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9. RAFT Writing Assignments.

RAFT (Role, Audience, Format, Topic) is a creative writing strategy where students explore a topic by writing from a perspective different from their own. For example, they could be a volleyball complaining about being hit all day, or a judge who has to make a difficult decision. Students need to consider their Audience (who is the volleyball complaining to? The President??), and the Format (Is this a letter? A tweet? A memo?). The Role, Audience, and Format can either be made by the teacher beforehand or brainstormed together as a class.


10. Learning Centers. 

Teacher prepares activities and materials for four centers around the room. Students are given a certain amount of time to complete the tasks at their center, then rotate. For example, there could be a Grammar Center (with worksheets and answer keys), a Vocabulary Center (with Scrabble), a test-taking center (with old tests), and a Reading Center (with books and magazines). 

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading and if you enjoyed this post, please like and shoot me a comment!

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