Back to the Future: Even More Low-Tech Activities
for a High-Tech Classroom

2013_Heyer_Sandra Sandra Heyer

In a previous newsletter, I described my state-of-the-art classroom and its hidden drawback: It was making my students and me a little lazy. I was glued to a high-tech console, and my students were glued to the seats of their sleek gliding desks. Concerned that our sedentary classroom style might have a detrimental effect on our health, I looked for a remedy. Fortunately, the problem caused by technology had a simple low-tech solution: interactive activities that got us out of our seats and moving around.

Up to now, we’ve taken a look at four activities: the Moving Line, Conversation Stations, Walking Dictation, and Find Your Match. In this article, let’s consider Opinion, Please and Line Up According To. Both of these activities require no prep time.

Activity 5: Opinion, Please
Levels: All

This activity works well before reading a text as a way to activate prior knowledge, and after reading as a way to begin a discussion. It gets the whole class moving to the front of the classroom.

  1. On opposite ends of the board, write in big letters contrasting responses, for example, YES and NO or AGREE and DISAGREE
  2. Present the class with a question or controversial statement. Give students time to think about their answer or, better yet, to jot down the reason for their response.
  3. Students walk to the front of the room and stand next to the answer that reflects their opinion. Ask volunteers to explain why they chose that answer.

 Examples of Yes-No Questions for Opinion, Please

Figure 1

 These discussion starters complement stories in the True Stories reading series.

“Something in Return”
Easy True Stories,
Unit 20
Is it a good idea to talk to a robber?
“Mr. Venezuela”
All New Easy True Stories,
Unit 3
Do you think beauty contests for men are a good idea?
“The Love Letters”
True Stories in the News,
Unit 4
Do you believe in love at first sight?
“Love or Baseball?”
True Stories in the News,
Unit 10 
Is it ever OK to lie to your boyfriend or girlfriend?
“Surprise! It’s Your Wedding!”
More True Stories,
Unit 16
Is it a good idea to trick someone into marrying you?
“Black Cats and Broken Mirrors”
Even More True Stories,
Unit 9
Are you superstitious?
“Two Yahoos”
Beyond True Stories,
Unit 3
If you had a really great idea, would you drop out of school and start your own company?

Variation: Four Corners. Post four responses in the corners of the classroom—for example, STRONGLY AGREE, AGREE, DISAGREE, STRONGLY DISAGREE. Or, for a multiple-choice quiz, post the letters A, B, C, D, one letter in each corner of the room. Ask a question, and give four possible answers. Students stand next to the letter they think is the answer. Continue reading