Today I handed out topics for the Civil War in a Can project. This time it was for my other two groups of students. At my school, we block schedule. I will have one particular group of two classes on Mondays, Tuesdays, and every other Wednesdays, then another group of two classes on Thursdays, Fridays, and every other Wedensday. It’s still confusing to me too. Today, I did something different. I normally just have the topics in a can, and then I go up and down the rows allowing the students to randomly pull their topic out. This time, I modified it a little. Along with the topics, I added a couple of early lunch passes into the can. This made it a little bit more interesting. Also, once everybody had a topic, I gave them a quick summary of each topic, then I allowed them to trade topics with someone in the class. I gave them only one minute to trade. Once that was finished, I gave them another opportunity to change topics by letting anybody who wanted to, to come up and take a chance with the remaining topics in the can. They had to give up their topic and choose again at the random topics left in the can. Finally, if there were any students who still were not happy with the topic they had chosen, they had to opportunity to choose another topic about the Civil War, just as long as it was not on my list of topics. They also had to get it approved by me first. It got a little loud while they were selecting topics, but that was O.K. It took about 25 minutes from start to finish. Tomorrow, I’m giving a pop quiz. : )
Today’s Tip For New Teachers: Use the countdown method. Any time you give an activity, give the students a time limit, and as the clock ticks away, keep reminding them of the time remaining. Students who are wasting time will normally get back on task when reminded of the shortening time. Today, I gave the students one minute to trade topics. I yelled out, “1 minute. Go!” At the 45 second point, I let them know also. At the 30 and 15 second stage also. Finally, at 10 seconds, I started counting down. By the time I got to “one,” all the students were in their chairs. Students need time limits. They like time limits. They love time limits.