“If you start wrong, you can’t finish right.” This was a quote from a former coach decades ago. In that sport, you had a 3 second movement, so every step had to be precise. Teaching is very similar. If you are unorganized, off task and not on your “A” game at the start of class, it can be difficult to finish well, especially with challenging classes. The focus of this blended learning post is starting your class.
Variety is the spice of life, but routines keep us sane. Every day your students should have something to do immediately upon entering your class. This could be something simple, like recalling yesterday’s materials or something more applied, like explaining their experience with a lesson topic. Here are some tools I like to use in the blended learning format.
Quizizz: A great quiz tool, lots of fun. Kids log in, create a name and start working. Keep it short for starting class. A great free learning tool that every teacher should use. Each student gets an individual question, then a meme based on their response. This site ranks all students as they compete, I find learners enjoy the opportunity to jockey for position. In addition, they get instant feedback based on their responses.
Mentimeter: This tool is an interactive presentation. Students can log on using a code and quickly respond to questions you have set up. It’s a nice change of pace, you can use the limited free version for starters and pay to gain greater features. The format is visually appealing to students.
Kahoot: Another quiz tool. Designed more in a "winner takes all" approach. This will get your classes fired up. Students like the exciting game show atmosphere. Quiz questions appear on the projector screen while kids choose a button that matches their response. Just watch out, there are spam bots’ kids can use to blow up your Kahoot (increase the users 100 fold). Keep answer times to 20 seconds or less to avoid issues.
Google Forms: A perfect tool for a class survey or questions about a concept. I like to use form quizzes after a day of difficult lessons, this allows students to review prior learning to help long term retention.
Youtube: The perfect place to find 3 to five minutes to engage your students. Not interested in video, try music. Its fun to bring kids into class playing a song, ask them how do they think it will relate to today’s lesson?
How to start your lesson?
Clear instructions are key, on the board, projector or calendar. Students should be able to immediately see what is taking place. Over half your students will begin working on your getting started activity if they know what it is. The other students may need some direction, but ultimately clear directions reduces the number of students you have to get started.
Start with a PowerPoint slide or message that relates the following.
The key to any lesson is the facilitators ability to line up the lesson goals, with their students needs and the tools available. Be sure you are communicating with students on the way in, setting the stage for a great learning experience. The most disheartening thing learners can hear is “open your laptops and get to work” for an entire period of instruction. The beginning of class is a busy time to connect, learn, excite and motivate your students to excel. Say “Hi”, connect and direct them to the bell ringer.
In our next post we will explore the “Core” lesson, the main teaching goal and instructional content for the day. Best wishes and keep fighting the good fight!
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