Question of the Day comes from Mildred Plotkins, an imaginary teacher from
Waynesboro, Virginia. Mildred asks:
I am midway through
my first year of teaching, and my students are all bored and throw things at me.
At first it was just paper, but now they’ve moved to firecrackers and
other explosives. What can I do to make my teaching more interesting and stop me from
getting my head blown off? Also I’m poor so I can’t buy anything and I have no free time.
I’m sorry to hear about your situation. Although none of my students have
thrown anything at my head, a few years ago one of mine did say he was so bored
he was going to set me on fire.
for Mildred and others going through a similar mid-year situation of ways
to revamp your teaching game without breaking the bank or turning you into a person who stays at school until 9:00 PM.
Your Teaching With Almost Zero Effort!
five-minute segment in a British accent, or whatever accent in which you are even reasonably proficient besides your own
see a big percentage of my class slowly lower their heads down to their
desk, I often rev up my English accent and they all pop up again.
What is it about accents that are so fun? Make sure that you use this for
short segments only or for relatively unimportant directions, because some kids get so
excited about your accent that they’ll stop listening altogether.
part isn’t important but I’m going to tell you anyway. I’ve always been proud
of my British accent, and when I lived in England (which was for about ten
seconds), I once read a paragraph out of a book in my best accent to my English
friends. When I looked up from reading, they were all doubled over in their chairs with silent laughter.
don’t sound English?”
replied. “But maybe an English person who has brain damage, or has half their
my students think my accent is flawless, and that’s all that matters.
into thinking they have power with the “Raise the Roof” game
Raise the Roof.
“raise the roof” motion without smiling. (Click here for an extremely helpful instructional video on raising the roof from Howcast.)
about to do something I know they hate, like a timed write.
Let’s say I really want them to have 10 minutes to do it. But I don’t tell that to the kids.
Instead, I tell
them that we’re about to play Raise the Roof, and if I win, they only have five minutes to write; if they win,
they have 10 minutes. Then I always lose because I can never raise the
roof with a straight face.
of having defeated me.
a teacher I had in high school. Thanks, NR!
two teams. Have each team send a representative to the front of the room.
You ask a review question. The first team representative to ding a bell
(or, if your students are like mine and have broken three of your bells, a
Post-It note that one student can be in charge of making go “ERRRR!!” when buzzed) gets to answer
the question for their team for three points. If the answer is incorrect,
the other team gets a chance to answer for three points.
correctly gets a chance to shoot the trashketball (i.e. a special ball of
trash) across the room into a trash can for an additional two points. I make
the question worth more than the trash so that nobody gets harassed if they
miss. Also, be sure to check the trash can ahead of time for things like used Kleenex or the cheese from your Lean Pocket.
trashketball in high school was a foam human head decorated to look like
him. I used to have one but it was destroyed very quickly, so this is a
picture of my current trashketball.
weird phenomenon that happens in Trashketball.
The kids who are the star athletes and talk a huge game usually miss
when they throw it, and the quietest, least athletic kids are often the ones who make
the insane, across-the-room shots for 50 kazillion points. Just play it; you’ll see what I mean.
beginning of class that relates to your lesson plan minimally or not at all
a way to relate them to your lesson, they might make your students like you more and
thus make them pay attention. Here is a list of my favorites.
say about this one. But your kids will
be quoting it for the rest of the year.
all these videos are about animals. Huh.
seriously the best. The only thing you really have to prepare is moving
all desks out of the way and creating a review. Chances are you had to
create a review anyway, so really the only thing to do is move desks which you
can make your students do.
regular musical chairs, except the person who is “out” at the end gets to
challenge someone who is sitting for their seat. The two students, the challenger and the challengee “face off” with a review question. When I play, I make all my students answer the question (even if they’re
not one of the two students in the showdown for a chair) and turn in their
review at the end of class.
violent. And really, really hilarious. I’ve laughed myself to tears/stomach
cramps/near death on multiple occasions.