As a teacher, one of my biggest struggles in the classroom is making sure I get all of my students involved and engaged in a lesson. Although I feel like science is the most fascinating subject out there and my students should be hanging on my every word, I realize that not all of my students will always share in my enthusiasm.
Just because my students are quiet, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are actively listening and absorbing information.
It’s no secret that if you can get your students up and moving then they’re more likely to become engaged in your lesson. I’ve found that using circuits in my classroom has been a great way for me to tackle this issue.
So what is a circuit and how does it work?
Circuits are printable activities that contain different questions and answers for a particular topic or unit. Each page of the circuit is divided into two parts. The top of the page has an answer (to a question from another page within the circuit) and the bottom of the page has a new question.
To use the circuit, all you have to do is print out all of the pages and then randomly place each sign around the room. You want to make sure to mix them up so they’re not in the same order as you originally printed them out.
Students can begin at any location within the circuit, so I like to have my students spread out and start at different signs.
All the students have to do is read the bottom question on the sign and then walk around to find the correct answer at the top of another sign somewhere in the room. I like to have my students write the questions and corresponding answers down as they work through the circuit for a quick check once the activity is completed.
Students will continue working through the circuit until they have matched all of the questions and answers. If they completed it correctly, students should start and finish the activity at the same sign, which means they successfully completed the “circuit”.
I’ve found circuits to be extremely useful in my classroom for various reasons. First of all, they’re an extremely flexible activity. You really can use them anywhere. They’re a super quick and easy activity because they don’t require much setup. And anything that saves me time is definitely a winner in my book.
You only have to print the pages, tape them up, and you’re ready to go. And where you choose to put them is entirely up to you and your mood for the day.
Sometimes I tape them to the walls of my classroom or I might just spread them out on the tables around the room. If I feel like escaping my classroom for a while, I like to also use the hallway to spread them out a little more. I’ve even been known to put them on the sides of the school building if I want a good excuse to go outside on a beautiful day.
And not only can you put them anywhere, you can also use them for almost any type of lesson purpose. I’ve used them in my classroom as added practice, as a review before a test, for after school tutorials, and even for substitutes when I’m out. The flexibility of circuits lets me change it up each time so my students and I never get bored.
As I mentioned earlier, circuits are also a great way to get your students up and moving. Science is definitely a subject that allows (dare I say, requires) students to talk and collaborate with one another.
Students can only “sit and get” for so long before they lose interest.
I’ve found that circuits help ensure participation and engagement from all of my students because they have to be up and out of their seats to complete the activity. They can’t just sit back and let one person do all of the work at their table.
I’ve found that students actually get excited to do them. Any activity that lets them get up and move around will beat a regular old worksheet any day hands down. My students really appreciate that.
I also love how circuits naturally create a more student-led environment in the process. Circuits give my students the chance to work at their own pace and they allow me to step back and take on more of a facilitator role.
I can now be more available for one-on-one interactions with my students as they work through the circuit. I can talk to my students individually in order to monitor their progress, clear up any misconceptions, and answer any questions they might have. I feel like this makes the activity way more rewarding for them and also for me.
Circuits are an extremely quick and beneficial activity for any classroom. If you’ve never tried them, or maybe it’s just been a while since you have, you can click here to download our FREE Force and Motion Circuit.
We’ve also created an Around the Room Circuit Bundle that contains 25 different sets (each set is available for purchase separately). This bundle covers a wide variety of topics for you to use within your science units.
Please feel free to comment below and let me know how you like to use circuits in your classroom!
Thanks for reading!