Do you need some ideas to jazz up your teaching and get the children more engaged after the long winter doldrums have set in? Here are 5 effective ways to make your group times more interesting and engaging?
#1. Turn and Talk
This strategy works very well for language arts lessons. Instead of asking a question and calling on someone to answer, stop during the lesson, ask the children to turn to their partner and share their answers to the question. This is very effective because EVERYONE gets to answer the question, not just one child.
If your students have trouble listening and taking turns speaking, you can use visual reminders. One child can hold the “EAR” that says “LISTEN” and one child holds the “MOUTH” that says “TALK”. Click here for a free download of these signs.
#2. Cold Calling.
Are the same children answering your questions? Do some children hide their eyes and never participate? Try out COLD CALLING in which you call on children to answer. This will pick up the pace, get more children involved and keep them all focused better. This works best when you have an activity with short, factual answers.
First make a list of the children to use for calling their names. Here’s a good random name generator for your SmartBoard: http://www.classtools.net/random-name-picker/ You can also use popsicle sticks or just a deck of index cards with the children’s names on them.
#3. Individual WhiteBoards
Do you children come to the board to solve math problems? Use individual whiteboards instead. This is much more effective since all the children will be solving the problem, not just watching. Then, have everyone hold up their boards to show you. You can get a quick view of who is getting the right answers. Quick and easy formative assessment!
#4. Choral Response
Wake up your class and get them invigorated with choral responses. This works best for a review of things you want children to memorize or know by heart. Use a hand signal to let them know when to respond. Keep the pace brisk! Here’s a video demonstrating how to teach this to your class.
#5. Small Groups
Take your whole group lesson and turn it into small group lessons that are differentiated. You probably already do this for guided reading, so use the same format for math or writing as well. Group the children by the strategies they need help with or by their level of functioning. As you work with one group, the other groups can be doing seatwork. Your instruction will be more effective since you can individualize your instruction.
I hope these ideas help reinvigorate your teaching and get the children more engaged!