By Teachers, For Teachers
Every teacher has those times when you need five minutes to take attendance, talk to a colleague, or answer a call from the office. Try these tips so your students aren't sitting around.
Try using your room decorations to keep students occupied. One high school teacher covered the wall around her blackboard with quotes from literature and famous people. Any time she needed five minutes, she asked students to choose a quote and write about it.
Other teachers do the same thing with images. Post amazing photographs and ask your students to write about what they see in the picture.
What basic skills/concepts do you want students to master this year? Prepare activities in advance and you can use these five minute intervals for practice.
Younger students can drill their multiplication tables or practice their handwriting. For older students, consider investing in a skills workbook that’s different from what your students use. Make transparencies of the worksheets and any time you need five minutes, project one and ask students to work on it.
For English/Language Arts teachers, re-type a paragraph from the newspaper and purposefully make grammar mistakes. Project it and ask students to find and correct the mistakes.
Pair students up and ask them to review their homework together. Tell them they will both receive the same grade on the assignment, and their grade will be partially based on how they work together. Yes, this means you won’t know how well each individual student understood the assignment, so you can’t do this every day, but once in awhile it can be an effective way to improve comprehension – and buy yourself five minutes.
If you assigned reading for homework, have a written “question and comment” session. Give each student an index card and ask them to write one question they had about the reading and one comment. If they don’t have a question, they should write two comments. Gather these into a bowl and use them to guide a class discussion once you’re free to talk.
When you need five minutes, pass out index cards to your students, and take time for some artistic expression.
For younger students, give them a simple prompt like, “Draw a picture of your favorite animal.” Older students can review a map (“Draw a map of the thirteen colonies from memory,”) or a diagram (“Draw the diagram of an atom from memory.”)
In English class, have them illustrate a scene from the last book they read, turn their reading assignment into a comic strip, or draw a map of the book’s setting.
Choose which ideas work for your class and prepare the materials in advance. That way, you’ll never have to worry about a chaotic classroom when you just need those five extra minutes.
What are you five-minute fillers? Share in the comments section!