Add a drawing component to some assignments. Have them draw what they learned, and explain their drawing. This is an alternative method for your students to demonstrate learning which is especially helpful for students who might have difficulty with organizing words, but are artistic. It can also serve to slow down your students who are always in a hurry.
Education has become Edutainment. Kids have become so entertained that you sometimes need to approach your lesson with a mix of fun to keep their attention. Be careful that you do not let the fun factor take away from the learning factor. Work to find a balance and you will see better results.
Sometimes it is very effective to begin teachings things incorrectly as it can be used to engage the students. Example: Silent letters in words; know - I will pronounce ka-now; sign - I will pronounce sig-n. This is not a good method for new material, but for review work it adds a fun twist to instruction. Just make sure you follow up with the lesson correctly.
Limit how much new content you try to teach in week leading up to the break, their minds will not absorb much of it. Develop activities to do that coincide with a holiday. Use the activities sparingly so when a holiday comes along it is fresh and new for the students. For Thanksgiving I have a set of plans that I pull out each year that keeps my planning at a minimum and keeps my students engaged as they have not seen it before.
When students give an incorrect answer, follow up with questions that guide them to come up with the correct answer on their own.
Keep a hard copy of your gradebook. Electronic gradebooks are great tools and have their place, but sometimes unintended events may change data such as a laptop touchpad that is extra sensitive and jumps to a different column while you are entering data. It may take a little extra time, but keeping a hard copy can potentially save a lot of frustration if something goes wrong with your electronic gradebook.
When grading work; on some material you may need to think through the students eyes and grade accordingly. Sometimes they have ideas that make a lot of sense but are not considered a correct answer. Example: In a lesson that contains measurement, some answers make sense in both feet and yards (unless it is measuring the specific unit).
Practice math facts at the classroom door. You have to get a fact correct to enter the classroom. It adds a fun dimension to learning and motivates students to practice math skills. Use good judgement with those who struggle.
Make math fun by introducing patterns, like 246 +642= 888 or 123+321= 444. Encourage students to find more examples. Use patterns that are appropriate for the age of your students.
If you have to read text out loud to accommodate students with special needs. Leave a word out once in awhile and have the class echo it in. It helps keep the students on task.
When reading a book out loud to the class, use voice inflections and different voices for characters. No one enjoys monotone reading. The students will become more engaged in the story and are more likely to remain focused.
Set up a sub folder that includes a class list, a seating chart, and a short list of students you can trust. Put these materials in a highly visible area in the event you are not able to come in to set up your sub plans. Also include sets of assignments for the sub so they can cover a day or two without you coming in.
Have emergency sub plans for your class set up in advance for emergency situations where you cannot be in the classroom. Include class sets of activities that do not need copied. Put the plans in 3 ring binders and label by subject. It is wise to have several activities for each subject and some time filler ideas. Make sure to include your class list, schedule for each day, seating chart, and any special notes, such as students who leave at special times.
Exaggerate things to make learning fun. Be sure your students know you are exaggerating and are not believing your tall tale. Don't overuse this strategy, but it can make learning fun when used once in awhile.
Use wait time in your questioning. Students will figure out that you will pass on them in 2 to 3 seconds if they don’t respond….. and they will wait it out. Beat them at their game.! There is no "magic" number, but up to 10-15 seconds is appropriate if needed. This may also depend on the subject matter. However, be cautious with students who honestly struggle and provide cues if needed. Too much wait time can also cause embarrassment.
Show enthusiasm while you teach. If a sentence has an exclamation point, put some emotion into it and watch the students respond. Share an interesting or an odd fact that might get students excited. If you are excited about the topic, your students will pick up on that and will be more interested in what you teach.
Take the occasional “rabbit trail”. For example, if in a reading selection the Northern Lights is mentioned, take a break and investigate the Northern Lights on Youtube or in pictures. After a few minutes, come back to the lesson. Often times they will be more engaged because now they can connect with the concepts more.
Make a notebook of sub plan lessons, subdivide by subject area. Make a list at the beginning of each section to write the date and name of the lesson used for your records. It makes it easier for the next time you make plans.
Cover the names at the top of papers as you grade them to allow you to stay more objective as you grade. It will keep you from showing bias against the little rascal that is driving you crazy, or favoritism toward the one who is always trying to please you.
Vary your strategies for choosing students in classroom participation. If you only call on the ones who raise their hands you will leave out a large portion of the class. Try mixing things up and use a strategy to cover various areas of the classroom and call on students who don’t raise their hand. Example: Try choosing from the front/back/left/right, choose every 3rd student in a row, choose a color. Bonus: Ask students to identify your strategy. A word of caution, this works better for reviewing material rather than introducing a new skill. Remember to remain sensitive to students who truly are struggling to know the material.
Be creative with finding page numbers. Make it into math problems to stretch their brains. Use money terms such as 2 quarters, 1 dime, 1 nickel, 3 pennies, written on the board as 2Q+1D+1N+3P =? (p. 68). This helps students begin to understand unknown variables with something familiar to them. Another concept is to use metric terms such as meters and centimeters. Ex. Find page 2 meters, 38 centimeters (p. 238).
When assisting a student struggling with a problem, lead them to the answer instead of giving them the answer. This may mean breaking down the steps into smaller points, highlighting a direction, or giving a strategy to help them focus.
ARTHUR BROOD TEACHER