Classroom Activities That Promote The Intellectual Growth Of Students

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INTRODUCTION


Chitra (name changed) was sitting in the center of the vast living room among scattered leafy vegetables, plucking the leaves one by one and dropping them into a vessel kept close to her. What intrigued me was how she was carrying out the task assigned to her. Her gentle fingering of the leaves had a particular soft rhythm which was worth appreciating.

She would pick up one strand and de-leaf so meticulously and entirely that the strand would appear like a tree sans leaves. Such was her focus on the job for an hour and a half every day. She was contributing to the larger goal of selling leafy vegetables with minimum wastage in the nearby market. Observing her, a thought crossed my mind. If I were to do the same job, I would not do it as good as her. Probably I would rip off the leaves from the strand in one go and also leave half the leaves on the strand itself, thus ending up with more wastage. And then a realization dawned upon me. When the mind is trained to focus on the job at hand diligently, we can achieve better results.

You might ask, “What has plucking leaves got to do with intellectual growth?”

Here we are referring to Chitra (name changed) who is an adult with special needs, (doctors say she has Autism Spectrum Disorder). Her upbringing was challenging for her parents and teachers. Now at the age of 26, she has made a beginning, striving to raise her potential. I am sure eventually she would be able to maximize her potential with the support of her mentors.

It may appear to be a very simple job for us, but training her intelligence to separate the leaves from the stem and dropping them in the vessel had been a herculean task for her trainers (remembering Helen Keller’s teacher here). She had to be kept happy to contribute her mite to the team. It was found that she had to be disengaged from the primary activity for some time to enable her to come back and engage herself more effectively in the classroom where she belonged.

What are the classroom activities that one can adopt to promote the intellectual growth of students?


1. Dancing and singing together by asking participants to hold hands (Ilasa Iyel, Ilasa Iyel, Ilasa Iyel, Ilasa yel, Ilasa Iyel, Ilasa Iyel, Ilasa Iyel, Ilasa yel)

This activity effectively empowers them to initiate the process of rapport building quickly. The same reason why most of us like singing and dancing (1 Minute)

2. Conduct communication and social skills class (example teaching new words like mat, cat, rat, sat, bat, fat for very young children…. and enacting each one of them (like relay storytelling). Also, teach them to smile, maintain eye contact and say a greeting (it hardly takes around three seconds to do these three things for anyone) (5 Minutes)

3. Throwing down a challenge – Saying he/she can never do this particular work or pleading not to do that particular work (Play way/ Using negative psychology). Students would end up doing exactly that and as a result – Primary Task gets completed). This could also have an adverse effect, at times. However, the trainers must strategise differently. When one does not work, quickly switch to “What is next ?”

4. Relaxing by keeping eyes closed (Start counting backwards from 10 to 1, 20 to 1, 30 to 1………… And reach 100 to 1 (5 Minutes). Result: Increase in concentration.

5. Creating a competitive atmosphere by inculcating team games to enable them to give their best. For example; Divide students into two teams. Give rubber bands to one team (one packet) and newspapers (about 15) to the other. Keep a one-liter water bottle in the center of the room and give the teams 10 minutes to lift the bottle from the ground using the given props. The focus is on the teams functioning together to succeed.

6. Grouping participants according to their birth months and encouraging them to share an important event that has happened in that particular month or even talking about a great personality born in the same month as them – Play time – Everyone has a hidden child that wants to play. A five-minute power play would give the required break from routine work and imparts a good feeling to the children.

7. Last but not least: Asking open-ended questions.

This would rekindle their thinking. For example – Using the seven means of intelligence – What, Why, How, Where, Which, Who, Whom. The aim is to enable them to ask open-ended questions to develop their intellect. E.g:- Who is your favorite star, where did you go in the last vacation?

CONCLUSION


We need to continually notice what works and what does not and accordingly change strategies to improve the learning curve. It is important to celebrate the winners and also train the children who could not win to handle their emotions. Students should learn to celebrate their friend’s success as their own success. We need to be prudent as to what works for whom and shuffle the activities so that there is holistic learning.

Likewise, we need to disengage our students from the primary activity for them to come back and continue learning for their intellectual growth willingly. We need to be creative in choosing activities which children enjoy so that there is a fun element to learning as well. They say “simplicity is the highest form of sophistication.” Hence classroom activities should be kept simple and engaging so that students willfully show interest in developing their intellect.

  
Learn from the best math teachers and top your exams

  • Live one on one classroom and doubt clearing
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