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Quick and Easy Connect/Do Activities for All!

by Kate Wolfe Maxlow

So, you’ve read the article on the AbCD (Absorb & Connect/Do) Learning Cycle, and you want to get started. But how, you’re wondering, can you incorporate this into your classroom without taking a ton of extra time?

We’ve got you covered. Below are several easy ideas to get students Connecting information to what they already know, or Doing something interesting with it. Inserting one of these at key intervals throughout your lesson (depending on the developmental needs of your students) is a great way to keep students’ minds engaged throughout your entire lesson.

Note that the first time you use one of these Connect/Do activities, it may take a bit longer than the times listed here because you’ll need to model how to complete the activity for students and potentially teach them about effective and positive collaboration with peers. As students get more fluent with the activity, though, it will take less and less time.

My advice is to start by choosing about 5 quick Connect/Do activities and explicitly teach them to students upfront. You can then switch between them throughout lessons so that no activity loses its novelty. Once students are used to those 5 activities, you can then start adding one more at a time so that you have a wide library of quick Connect/Do activities to use at any given moment.

Turn and Talk (1-3 minutes)
It’s as easy as it sounds. Provide students with an interesting prompt (e.g., “What would be the first step you would take to solve this problem?” “Would you have fought as a Patriot or a Loyalist during the American Revolution?” etc..), then have them turn to an elbow partner and discuss it. It helps to assign elbow partners ahead of time so that students don’t waste time making awkward eye contact and no students are left out. Monitor as the students talk so that you can have some share out with the whole group and you can correct any potential misconceptions.

Think/Pair/Share (3-5 minutes)
This is similar to the Turn and Talk, but involves a couple of extra steps. First, students Think independently. After giving them a prompt, give students 30-60 seconds to think about their response first. Having older students write down their answer first can also be helpful. Next, students Pair up and share their answers. Lastly, they Share with the group in some way. This can include sharing our verbally, writing thoughts on a sticky note and posting them, or responding in Google Classroom or on a padlet.

Postcard Summaries (1-5 minutes)
Students draw the main idea of the lesson on the front of a notecard and write a summary to a friend on the back.

Tweet It (1-5 minutes)
Students have to express their thoughts about a topic in 280 characters or less. You can either give them graph paper with 280 squares, have them literally tweet the answer on Twitter with a hashtag, or use a Google Form that only allows 280 characters (in Google Forms, on the question itself, go to Advanced, Response Validation, Maximum Characters and set to 280). This activity is great because it forces students to be concise in their thoughts, which often leads to them thinking more deeply about their summaries.

Sing It (2-10 minutes)
Using simple melodies they already know (e.g., Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, I’m a Little Teapot), students work in groups of 2-3 to write a quick song about the topic they have just learned. Rhyming optional.

Four Corners (3-10 minutes)
Students move around the room based on their answer choices; works best if you use open-ended prompts for the corners rather than discrete answers (e.g., “Which character from Romeo & Juliet would you most like to go to dinner with & why?”).

A-Z Challenge (2-5 minutes)
In groups of 2-3, students come up with as many words as they can think of that relate to a topic, starting with A, then B, then C, etc.. See how far they can get in 2 minutes!

Three Facts and a Fib (1-5 minutes)
Give students three facts about the topic with one fib thrown in. See if they can figure out which one is the fib with a partner, then share the actual answer. For older students, have students write down three facts about the topic and one fib; share with a partner to see if they can determine the facts and fibs.

One Minute Story (2-3 minutes)
In groups of 2, give students a prompt to connect what they’ve learned to their own lives.  Have them “tell a one-minute story” to a partner while you time them.

Whip Around (1-5 minutes)
Students choose 1 word or phrase to sum up their learning. See how fast you can go from person-to-person having them share. Students can repeat responses, but cannot say “ditto” or “what s/he said.”  Have students discuss their favorite answers and themes they heard after the Whip Around.

Three-Minute Password (3-5 minutes)
One student (A) faces the board and the other faces away (B). Both students know the topic.  Student A sees 5-10 words/pictures on the board and has to get Student B to guess each in turn by giving clues. See how many they can get in three minutes.

Rate It (2-4 minutes)
Instead of simply reading students notes from a PowerPoint or Slideshow, instead post 3-5 facts about the topic and have students either work independently or in pairs to rate them from Most Important to Remember to Least Important to Remember. Have students share out how they rated them and justify their answers.

Take a Stand (5-15 minutes)
Present a controversial statement about the current topic (for instance: “The United States should have stayed a part of England instead of fighting for independence). Tell students that if they completely agree with the statement, they should stand all the way to the right of the classroom. If they completely disagree, they should stand all the way to left. Or, they can stand anywhere in-between to indicate how strongly they agree or disagree. Once students have chosen their position, have them discuss with a nearby partner why they chose to stand there. Then, have them work together to create a 1-minute persuasive presentation to convince others in the room to move closer to them and share out.

Elevator Speeches (3-5 minutes)
The Elevator Speech is a 30-60 second pitch or summary that could be told to someone in the time it takes to ride an elevator. Students would therefore create a 30 second summary of whatever they learned that day. Have them share their summary with a partner and time them to make sure it stays under 30 seconds.

Kate Wolfe Maxlow is the Professional Learning Coordinator at Hampton City Schools. She can be reached at

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