This is the time of year that makes the best teachers a little crazy. Boys and girls are easily distracted and are jumping off the walls and the classroom environment can be a little chaotic. How do you keep the students on task when final projects are due and final tests that have a great impact on their grades are yet to be taken?
Open dialogue with parents
Ask for parental support. Stress to the parents the importance of keeping their child focused and on task and be clear about the final tests and projects that can have a significant effect on their child’s grades. Tell the parents although it is light outside and kids are in summer mode and want to stay up late, they need a good night’s rest and a healthy breakfast with protein in the morning. How they start their day affects their behavior throughout the day.
Plan more fun ways to learn
Just face it; the attention span of kids at this time of year is limited. Don’t fight them, join them. Go back to the kindergarten method and realize that they can only sit in their chair for 15 minutes at a time and then need to move onto another task. You don’t need to go to that extreme, but if you plan on blocking out an hour for a long, tedious assignment, you may need to stay on your toes: asking students to stop tapping their pencils, to stop kicking the chair in front of them, to stop getting up to get drinks of water and asking to go to the restroom. Work on group projects where students are in front of the class asking questions and calling on other students. Try a game show setting with points and prizes. They are more likely to pay attention when their classmates are in the front of the class, when they are standing up, or when they are allowed to sit on their desks than they are when writing answers on a paper.
Assign leadership roles to students
By the end of the year, I’m sure the students have tuned out their teacher’s disciplinary voice. Assign leadership roles to students. The responsible students good about writing in their planner and turning in their homework can be monitors for the students that don’t. Assign them tasks to check planners each night and homework in the morning of students that are starting to forget. Some students get lazy, but if a classmate is checking it for them, they may make the extra effort to have it completed. For the messy student, give them the role of room monitor/maintenance. Their job is to make sure each student picks up after themselves and they can clean the whiteboard at the end of each day. Other roles can be teacher helper, attendance monitor, messenger, technology guru and any other role where you feel that the students are no longer paying attention.
Plan fun activities for the kids for the afternoons or in between lessons so they can get their energy out and then can focus on the next project. Set up a student store where the students can apply all subjects at once. Students can make items to sell at the store or you can place classroom items and supplies no longer needed up for sale and use play money. The students learn to negotiate, learn economics related to supply and demand when pricing items, use practical math when calculating sales and change, and many more skills.
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