Monday, December 3, 2007

In Your Bag of Teacher Tricks…

Actually, I was trying to come up with a title for this post and couldn’t think of a creative one. This is basically the activities you come up with when your lesson ended faster than you expected. Sometimes I think I have a difficult lesson and then everyone seems to understand right away and finishes early. Or I thought I had an easy lesson and then no one seems to get it. This means you have to regroup and think of something different (otherwise known as monitor and adjust). Plus you don’t want to give your students too much free time or chaos could possibly reign. I remember being observed by an administrator when my lesson ended sooner than expected and luckily I was able to do something that enhanced my lesson that I hadn’t originally planned to do. Here are some things I have done to help during this time.

1. Use vocabulary from the lesson or subject and play hangman.
2. I keep flash cards made up with questions to help them study for tests. The answers are on the back. I ask the students questions and if they get the answer right, they keep the card. The one with the most cards gets a prize (usually a free pencil, pen, or eraser and sometimes candy).
3. Have the students come up with questions and answers for the flashcards from the lesson that day. They write down 2 on a piece of paper and when done each person tells his question and answer. You collect these papers and use the ones you want.
4. Talk about a social dilemma and have students discuss the appropriate way to handle the situation.
5. Give drawing paper and have them draw a picture to summarize the lesson.
6. Have them number a piece of paper 1-5 and have them write down 5 things they learned in class today.
7. Have them discuss things they could do for further research on your topic of the day. Have them explain why they think it is a good thing to do and how it could be evaluated (would it be graded on content, spelling, number of facts, etc?) Students love to give their input on things like this and are excited when I use their ideas.

If you have a “bag of tricks” like this in your mind, you will always be prepared. Nothing is worse than looking like you are unprepared in front of students because they will know this and take advantage for all its worth! If you have any other ideas, please comment on it so we can add more to the list.

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