Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Before a Break

What do you when the weather is changing or it's raining or snowing or doing something outside, or when you have a break of school coming up and all the kids are acting bananas? All this plus, you are expected to keep to a curriculum, prepare them for a state test and keep them entertained as well?

Do you throw up your arms and bury your head in your stacks of papers to grade? Do you pop in a movie and hope it keeps them quiet? Hand them a worksheet and read out of the book for two days straight? Or in my case try to fit it all in, plus an end of a quarter test?

I think we have all encountered those days when all the kids can talk about is the upcoming break, where you couldn't get them to concentrate if their life depended on it. Perhaps we are in the midst of those days now. Something I have to keep in mind during these times, especially with middle schoolers, is that these days are not indicative of all your days with these students. Just as I am antsy to get started with my Spring break, they are too, I am just able to disguise it better.

So a couple of ideas to tide us over.
1. Keep your lessons short and homework limited.
---- Use this time as a chance to have short reviews of concepts you have already talked about in the quarter. Choose a couple to do each day. Keep it short, like their attention spans at this time.
---- Short movie clips for discussion are great or to review concepts.

2. Give them an opportunity to get up and move around.
---- Even if you are just putting them in groups....use playing cards to match them up or use homogeneous grouping (same month of birthdays, same number of family members).
---- Some kind of physical activity will help them get the wiggles out.
---- Post big sheets of butcher block paper with terms or concepts on them around them room and have students rotate in groups writing everything they know about the concept.

3. Ketchup day
---- They will spend the first five minutes trying to figure out if you are going to give them fries.
---- As you are trying to make sure you have all the makeup work in, this will give those that have been gone ketchup. But make sure to plan a semi-entertaining activity for those that are finished with everything. Let them go to the library, or silently read.

4. Get creative.
---- Stick figure cartoons. Have each student draw a cartoon with no words they have them pass the papers to their neighbors and have the neighbors add the captions. You can give them a certain subject or topic to center around.

These are only a few of my ideas. What are yours?

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