Add Variety To A Class Period

Consider that a class - let's say that it's a 40 minute class - can be thought of not as a whole 40 minute block, but a period containing sections. The thinking is that most students can't do the same thing (like just listen to a teacher) for that long. So, it's a good idea to divide the block of time into smaller sections. Here are some activities that can add to the fun of a class period - at any level of instruction. The point of these activities is to provide a little fun for you, variety for the students, and give students a "rack on which to hang the hat of memory."

  1. Begin each class period with some kind of reading. It might be a famous quotation, a humorous quotation, a "Murphy's law," a startling statistic, a great passage from literature, or whatever. Consider allocating the first five minutes of any period for this activity. Your reading can relate to the subject matter at hand if you like, but that's not really critical. Any valid material is worthwhile.
  2. Have a repertoire of demonstrations to do. The nature of the demonstration depends on the nature of the subject you're teaching or the topic at hand. If you prepare a series of 5 to 10 minute demonstrations ahead of time, you'll have them ready. The more dramatic the demonstration, the better!
  3. Keep an inventory of things to pass out for students to examine. Again, your inventory will depend on what you're teaching. Collect and store your objects and have them ready for use.
  4. Be prepared to appear in costume. I know, it sounds a little crazy, but almost any age student will enjoy your appearance as some character. I've been Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle, Shakespeare, and even a few characters I've made up (Arthur, the Australian Astronomer, for example). A five or ten minute presentation of some important fact or concept done in costume is likely to be remembered (often for years to come!). If you have any feel for the stage or you're at all a ham, you'll have fun doing this.
  5. Have a game that you play periodically with students. Select a game with learning value, but one which is fun for students. You can decide for yourself how competitive the game gets. Play the game for 5 or 10 minutes during each, some, or occasional class periods.
  6. End your class with some regular expression or quotation. When "Hill Street Blues" was popular, I'd always end class with ".and careful out there." Then there's Yogi Berra quotes like "It ain't over 'til it's over." Lately, I've been using "The truth is out there" from the "X-Files" TV show. Whatever. Find one that kids will associate with you. It's fun and pretty soon you won't have to say it. The students will do that for you.