Work and Play

Activities in the classroom and how it influences student opinions on classes


Laasya Koduru

As students walk into Scott Perry’s American Literature class, they immediately lay their sights on the sentences glowing on the walls. Each statement presents an ethical question from the novel “The Great Gatsby.” Students then decide whether they agree or disagree with the statements and congregate into the respective corners of the room.

Similar to Perry, teachers across various departments try to incorporate engaging activities into their lesson plans. However, doing so can take time, Perry said.

“When you start to breakdown what you really have to get through, it gets really stressful,” Perry said. “It is easy to say, ‘I will take five or 10 minutes for this,’ but when it comes down to things, it is a lot of time.”

Instead of traditional lectures, Chinese teacher I-Chu Chang embodies a different teaching style – an emphasis on student interaction. Chang often asks her students to work in pairs and answer questions in Chinese.

Though incorporating engaging activities into lesson plans can be difficult, many teachers try their best to actively involve their students. Junior Alicia Chen shares how her past teachers made interactive activities for their classes.

“Last year, I was in [history teacher Cody] Owens’ World Core class and that was fun because he let us play Kahoot,” Chen said. “I did like it when the Spanish classes did fun activities for their holidays like Dia de los Muertos just having food and stuff.”

Similar to Owens and the Spanish classes, Perry plans out interactive activities for his classes every now and then. He tries to make them related to the content in class, since he feels that is the most effective way for students to learn.

“My favorite activities, for my World Studies and three American Literature classes, were when I would put a statement up on the screen, they would choose ‘agree’ or ‘disagree’ and they would have to move,” Perry said. “They had so much energy about that and they enjoyed seeing how the others responded.”

In addition to asking her students to interact with each other, Chang practices unique activities with her Chinese 1 students so they can learn and reinforce difficult vocabulary. She hides an object in the classroom and has students repeat the vocabulary word. By the time the students find the object, the students understand the word better because it was reinforced in a fun way.

Another activity that Chang plans in her Chinese 1 class involves passing around a stuffed animal among students. When Chang rings a bell at a random time, the student who is holding the stuffed animal is asked to answer a question in Chinese. If they are unable to answer the question, they are ‘punished’ by singing or dancing to a song in Chinese. According to Chang, students are motivated to study more because they don’t want to be embarrassed in front of the class.

Though many teachers wish to incorporate fun activities, Perry claims that making an interactive schedule can be hard sometimes.

“My students in [literature], they beg me to watch movies, but we don’t have the time,” Perry said. “I know that would be fun for them and I really see the stress of ‘we only have so much time now.’ I already see my teaching method changing a little.”