Here are some classroom strategies I have learned so far. Stay tuned for updates as I learn and experience more!
Making the Curriculum Entertaining
Why learn about bar graphs through a lesson dissecting and describing them, followed by making notes? Why not learn about the same thing, while also incorporating other elements of the curriculum into one activity? Every activity performed in the classroom should complete multiple objectives, rather than just one. The students in Ms. Selimos’ class are working on a novel study in which the main character is addicted to chocolate. To connect to the book and bring in an element of fun the students loved, she had the students dissect four different brands of chocolate chip cookies to see which cookie had the most chocolate chips in it. The students drew pictures of each package and recorded their findings in a bar graph. They were then asked questions about the data. This activity alone covers many topics such as art, listening skills, printing skills, math, fine motor skill practice, and critical thinking, making it a very productive afternoon.
Sometimes it cannot be helped: students are restless and unable to focus. Such as the case in the early weeks of my placement when temperatures didn’t come above -30°C for many weeks in a row. The extreme cold resulted in indoor recess followed by indoor recess followed by, yes, MORE indoor recess. To combat the bundled up energy, Ms. Selimos had the students follow along to short videos challenging them to move around. After participating in the activities shown, the children were better able to calm down and focus. Just five minutes of movements saved the teachers an entire afternoon of misbehaviour and unproductive students. Go Noodle is a (free!) resource for these kinds of videos and they aren’t just for fun – some of them actually teach the students basic facts like the weather system.
Busy, noisy, or distracted students don’t always want to listen to what the teacher has to say. As well, it may be hard to gain and hold students attention when they have off–task activities they are invested in. Rather than simply demanding attention by telling them to be quiet or just to start talking, a good strategy is to use an attention grabbing technique. For example, the teacher could clap in pattern which the students then have to repeat to show they are paying attention. Alternatively, a teacher could use a phrase that the students then have to respond to such as,
Teacher call-out: “Macaroni and cheese”
Student response: “Everybody freeze”
The phrase rhymes, is humorous to the students, and is short so it is easy to remember, making it perfect for this strategy. The teacher can then say what they wish after.