From Discipline Survival Guide for the Secondary Teacher...
There are countless ways to wake up and shake up your students. Prepared teachers take the time in advance of the lesson to prevent their students from being bored in class. They combine various techniques and try all sorts of bold new approaches to get their students engaged in a lesson. Don’t be afraid to try as many as it takes to get your students in the fast lane to success when their attention begins to lag.
Although there are dozens of approaches to take, the following list includes some that are designed to meet the needs of just about every teacher. Mix and match and use these to experiment with the best ways to keep your students on task.
1.Put a humorous drawing on the board or on the overhead or give your students chalk and have them draw a sketch on the board of some of the facts of the lesson. You could also ask the right-handers to use their left hands and vice versa. Asking blindfolded students to draw some of the facts from the lesson also helps focus their attention.
2. Stage a confrontation. Have another adult come in and fake a high-stress situation that relates to the material the class is preparing to study.
3.Use Christmas tree lights or other colored bulbs to spotlight a part of the lesson.
4. Hold up a box and ask students to guess what’s in it. Items can relate to the unit being studied.
5. Do you speak French? Pig Latin? Try speaking in another language for a sentence or two.
6. Write on the board three quotations that don’t seem to be related to one another and ask not just how they are related to each other, but to the day’s lesson as well.
7. Use music. Play raucous music or ask your students to identify sounds from a tape. Play bits and pieces of songs for students to put together to make sense of the lesson for the day. You can even sing to your students or have them sing to you.
8. Show a film montage.
9. Move the desks around or ask students to trade places with each other.
10. Hand out blindfolds and have your students put them on. Give them objects from the lesson for them to identify without peeking.
11. Hold a visualization session where your students imagine themselves as successful people, or on a deserted island.
12. Wear a costume to class or have your students wear costumes. Even simple accessories such as ties or hats can spice up a lesson.
13. Hand pupils a notice as they come in that says, “Today will be a silent communication day. No pupil is allowed to speak. All communication must be done through writing.”
14. Create a giant puzzle from poster board and magazine pictures you’ve collected and glued to the board. Assign each student a piece of the puzzle and then have them work together as a group to solve it.
15.Whisper or pantomime the directions you want your students to follow.
16. Pretend to be a talk-show host. Have props and procedures as close to the real thing as you can.
17. Ask students to identify the pieces of a word or sentence relevant to the lesson. Write the letters or words on construction paper. Then hand out these so that students can unscramble them to recreate the relevant word or sentence.
18. Promise a treat when the day’s work is done correctly.
19. Time as many activities as you can. Students work efficiently when they work to the clock. You can also put a student in charge of timing an activity or ring a bell or buzzer when the activity is over. Another way to keep students focused through timing is to announce that a change of pace is about to happen and then begin a countdown. Timing pupils almost always causes them to focus on the activity at hand and mentally prepare for the upcoming change.
20. Videotape your students in action. Even a mundane activity is more interesting when your students are given the opportunity to “mug” for the camera.
21.Give pupils a checklist of the high points of the material they will be studying and ask them to tick off the points that are covered in your presentation.
22. When you ask students to take notes on the day’s lesson, focus their attention with a list of the key words and phrases you want them to learn.
23. Announce that you intend to make deliberate errors on the board, on a handout, or in your speech and ask your students to catch you if they can.
24. Offer extra points for the first person to answer a question or for the person who can give the best answer.
25. Play a tape recording of yourself giving information or, even better, of your students giving information.
26. Show a videotape of other pupils modeling the same work you expect yours to do.
27. Get out the colors! Even older students enjoy using paints, crayons, and colored chalk to brighten a lesson.
28. Give your students soft play clay or other gooey stuff with a specific task to accomplish with it. It’s hard to be bored and to play with something gooey at the same time.
29. Plan an imaginary field trip to the place under discussion. Your students can brainstorm all sorts of information with this activity.
30. Hand out lengths of ribbon or string and have your pupils tie them together, make shapes with the various pieces, or invent other activities that apply to the lesson.
31. Make name tags for your students. There are many different ways you can use this strategy in your classroom. Your students could role-play the names they have been given. You could place the tags on your students’ backs so that they would have to work with other students to try to figure out the roles they have been given. You can also use name tags in group activities to assign various tasks.
32. Hand out pictures of people and have your students make guesses about the people in the photographs, match them up, notice specific details, or use them in other activities.
33. Revive that old game of telephone to get your students paying attention to the facts and figures in a lesson.
34. Have your students vote to respond to questions by signals, standing, holding up signs, or other ways that appeal to their sense of fun.
35. Counting down from 10 to 1 will alert even the most mature students that they need to focus on you, and not on their classmates or daydreams.
36. Ask someone to stand to answer a question. Be sensitive when doing this, however. Ask several students to stand—not just one child you want to single out.
37. Count off your students into teams.
38. Ask everyone to stand and do a series of silly movements such as touching their left elbows with their right hands or putting both hands on their heads. This will generally shake out the cobwebs.
39. Hand your students a newspaper or magazine with words missing and ask them to supply the missing information.
40. Show a cartoon that pertains to the lesson and ask students to create a caption for it.
41. Present a slide show. Even better, ask your students to prepare a slide show about a school event, a lesson in class, their interests, etc.
42. Present prizes for the best presentation, performance, answers, etc.
43. Hold a drawing for prizes.
44. Have your students make up signs or posters about the lesson.
45. Turn the lights low to signal a change of pace.
46. Ask riddles to stimulate interest.
47. Use computers in your classroom. Even the most routine tasks are more fun and are easier when students get to use computers to do them.
48. Give your students food to sample.
49. Put a list of words on the board and ask your students to determine what they have in common. Use this to change the pace of a lesson. Adding unlikely names or words to the list will force your students to stretch their minds.
50. Take photographs of your students in action during a lesson.