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Action Hands – A Focusing Activity


The Motivational Framework for Culturally Responsive Teaching, created by Margery B. Ginsberg, emphasize how inclusion includes respect and connectedness in the classroom (2004). Hence, I am always looking for teachable moments to engage students that correlates to the lesson objective.  After viewing and discussing the video, “Grit” by Angela Duckworth, students were given an opportunity to practice the simple technique of focusing. A variation of this activity was posted in the On Course Facilitators Manual with credit given to Dave Ellis (2020). I modified the activity for my course.


  1. Have students to choose a partner (Partner A and Partner B).
  2. Students sit with their partner in chairs facing one another.
  3. To begin, hands should be placed face down about 1 inch from their partner.
  4. Partner A’s job is to move their hands (up, down, around, sideways, etc.).
  5. Partner B’s job is to follow their partner’s hand. Hands should never touch. (This is a good time for the instructor to demonstrate with another student). Partner A begins.
  6. After a few seconds, it is Partner’s B turn to move his/her hands. Partner A follows.
  7. What is the point of the lesson? Wait for the students to respond. Focus. Yes.
  8. What happen when you lost focus on your partner’s moving hands? What caused you to lose focus? What did you do to regain your focus?
  9. Application: What happens when you lose focus in your classes? What can you do to improve or regain your focus?



This is a fun, active learning teaching technique that promotes critical thinking (see picture). Your students will be seriously engaged and leave with tips to experience success in college.

Engaging Essie



Downing, S. and Brennan, J. On Course: Strategies for Creating Success in College and

in Life, Facilitator’s Manual, Cengage Learning. Boston, MA. 2020.

Ginsberg, M. B., and Wlodkowski, R. J. Diversity & Motivation, Culturally Responsive

Teaching in College. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 2009.



Thanks for sharing this Essie!