You have a routine for everything – what your students should do when they get to class, how they should line up when the bell rings, how to distribute and collect papers, and so on and so on. And, as a result your classroom runs smoothly, everyone knows what to do, and Harry Wong is proud of you.Great.
Maybe…or maybe not.
Yes, routines have their place, and you need them to keep your class in order and to get things done. But they are also so very boring, and they don’t do a thing to stimulate creative thought. So, every so often (at least once a day!) shake your kids up and do something different. Here are some ideas:
- Put instructions on the board for what kids should do for the first 15 or 20 minutes of school or after they come back from recess. Make the instructions easy to follow but not part of the usual routine. Then watch them do it. Resist the urge to say or do anything.
- Change your attention signal frequently. One idea is to incorporate a vocabulary word into your attention signal and change it each week.
- Allow students to sit on their desks for a class discussion or to turn their chairs around and sit backwards so they straddle the chairs.
- Teach from the back of the classroom.
- Instead of calling on students, throw them a foam ball.
- Switch classes with another teacher for an hour.
- Play classical or new age-type music during work periods.
- Allow students to read in any part of the room they wish during silent reading.
- Change seating frequently.
- Draw popsicle sticks with kids’ names on them to partner kids, form groups, or select helpers. Kids should never know when they will be called on or with whom they will be partnered.
- Have students participate in math or spelling using individual whiteboards.
- Make a review lesson into a game.
- Allow students to do an assignment in felt tip pen or on unlined paper.
- Let wiggly kids sit on exercise balls.
- Let kids play with modeling clay while you read aloud, or let them draw.
- Switch around the schedule.
- If it is nice out, do a lesson outside.
- If kids are looking bored, play a very quick game of Simon Says or use another Brain Break.
- If you have a few extra minutes before lining up to go somewhere, give kids a criteria for lining up, such as oldest to youngest, alphabetically, boy-girl, by shoe color, according to what they ate for breakfast, etc.
If you have any ideas to add, please feel free to comment!