In the list below excerpted from The First-Year Teacher's Survival Guide, you will find some ideas that you can adapt to meet the needs of your students to make the first few minutes of class a positive experience. "Use your creativity to design activities that your students will enjoy as they look forward to the day’s lesson. For example, ask students to do one of the following activities or modify one to suit your students’ needs.
- Complete a story board of a process or series of events. A good source for this is Education World (http://www.educationworld.com). On the home page, use “story board” as a search term to be directed to story board templates.
- Work with classmates to combine puzzle pieces containing information about the material being studied
- Complete a word sorting activity. There are thousands of online sites for various levels of vocabulary words to sort. Just use “Word Sorts” as a search term on your browser.
- Survey classmates to gather reactions to a quotation related to the unit of study
- Read and teach a set of directions to classmates
- Create graphic organizers. A site with many easy-to-use organizers is maintained by Education Oasis. (http://www.educationoasis.com/curriculum/graphic_organizers.htm)
- Participate in energizers such as a ball toss game or racing the clock
- Display their homework for classmates to evaluate with colored dots (See Section 14 for more ideas on how to use colored dots.)
- Work with classmates to skim the day’s reading and make group predictions
- Relate a photo or series of photos to their current lesson
- Listen to lively music associated with the lesson. A good site to explore the various types of music you can use for this purpose is Free Play Music (http://freeplaymusic.com)
- Create electronic flashcards of key facts
- Work with a partner to solve a problem related to the lesson
- Respond to an intriguing, open-ended question
- Make a one-minute presentation on a topic that interests the entire class
- Complete an activity offered on a choice board
- Work with classmates to share ideas about their homework or previous learning.
- Use Screen Beans to illustrate a concept or event. These free computer stick figures can be found by using “screen bean” at Microsoft’s site for its Office products. (http://office.microsoft.com)
- Select two or three objects from a box containing many items and then predict how they will relate to the lesson
- Have students open class with a review game of their own devising
- Play a timed Power Point game. An excellent source for a variety of free games is a site maintained by Jefferson County Schools in Dandridge, Tennessee (http://jc-schools.net/ppt-teachers.html)
- Write a rhyme to help recall information
- List what they already know about the day’s lesson
- Skim the day’s reading material and predict what they will learn.
- Create or study flash cards with a partner
- Solve a brainteaser. Brain Bashers (www.brainbashers.com) is an excellent site to search for brainteasers. Managed by a British mathematician, Kevin Stone, it features thousands of games, riddles, puzzles, and illusions.
- List three reasons to study the day’s topic
- Read a news article and summarize the information in it. To find articles in eighty languages from all over the world, try searching the leader in online news: World News (http://wn.com).
- Combine information from their notes with another student.
- Watch a video clip and write about it. You can find thousands of short audio or video versions of historical events as well as clips from movies and television broadcasts at American Rhetoric (www.americanrhetoric.com).
- Brainstorm ideas with a partner about an assignment
- Label or draw a map. A helpful Internet source for free maps of all types and interactive activities to go along with them is Magellan Geographix at www.maps.com.
As you can see, there are countless ways to open class with a predictable routine that your students will enjoy. Use the teacher form below as a template to make interesting and beneficial plans for the start of each class.
TEACHER WORKSHEET 6.2: PLANS FOR STARTING CLASS EFFECTIVELY
Handouts to be distributed
Routine procedures posted
O Homework placed on desk
O Students in seats
O Materials ready
O New homework assignment posted for students to copy
Day’s agenda for students
Activity to open class
Activity procedures ______________________________________________________________________________