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The end of any school year (whether it's elementary, middle, or high school) can be characterized by one word--CHAOS.
The weather is warming, summer is calling, and the last thing our students care about is all that we have left to teach. So how do we calm the chaos?
There is no magic wand to wave over the lure of cell phones and warm weather. But there are a couple of things that you can do to keep students on task in the last few weeks. There are three words, in fact, that I try to remember: Humor, Music, Busy.
This is the trifecta of magic charms for me at the end of the year. So take a deep breath, pour a cup of chamomile, and discover how I calm the chaos.
1. Humor...They're annoying us. We are trying to introduce a lesson, and they are just not paying attention.
Don't talk over them, but do look for the humor in the situation. It's there. I promise. So take a moment, know you're not alone, and find it.
The other day, I gave my students a crossword puzzle to complete after they finished a test. I sat there and watched a student waste about 10 minutes surreptitiously googling an answer key on his phone ("Wonder what's so fascinating about your lap, son?"). I said nothing because he would not find one. I had created the puzzle myself without the help of the internet. In all the time he wasted trying to cheat, he could have completed the assignment. I just smiled and filed the experience in my "Jenious Journal" (you can read about that here).
2. Music...Have a classroom soundtrack. Play 90s' T.V. shows themes for activities that get them up and moving. Play Chopin, Mozart, Baroque, Enya, and Loreena Mckennit when they need to sit down, calm down, and work. It works for them, whether they like it or not, and it definitely works for me. Everything is better with music.
I'm going to confess something here that I'm not proud of. On particularly chaotic days, when they leave for lunch, I close my door, turn off my lights, and spend the entire 20 minutes sitting in my chair listening to smooth jazz with my eyes closed. I'm getting old. There, I've said it, and I feel better now.
3. Keep Them Busy...With meaningful work, that is. But structure the assignments. At this point in the year, pairing them off and spreading them out across the classroom to work is a great strategy for me. It keeps me in control and gives them the freedom to work collaboratively. And partners tend to actually hold each other accountable
They all finish at different times. But they cannot. have. spare. time. Not Ever. That is the death knell. That allows chaos to swing in. And it most definitely will if they have nothing else to do. So give them busy work that counts! Let them practice with their vocabulary. It will keep idle hands busy and provide meaningful review.
Here are great vocabulary activities that can go with any subject:
|This one offers activities and extra credit options. Get it HERE.|
|This one has a variety of options: 24 task cards and supplemental handouts. Get it HERE.|
How do you calm the chaos? Leave a message below, and let me know! And be sure to check out the links below to find other great tips and tricks for keeping the chaos at bay.