Lesson Plan Ideas For The Last 5 Minutes of Class
It’s always a mistake when I get cocky and write in pen in my lesson plan book. Although it’s gotten a little easier over the years, pacing a lesson is one of the most challenging things for teachers. You have unexpected delays, events, differing abilities among students and difficulty in the material taught. A good teacher differentiates to accommodate different learners, however, it’s never an exact science. It took me some time to realize that those last few minutes of class are not ‘throw away’ minutes—they are precious time to review material, establish cooperation among classmates and encourage team building.
As a new teacher, especially, there is sometimes nothing worse than under-planning and finishing your lesson 5 or even 10 minutes early. Here are ideas for things you can do with those last few minutes of class to keep students engaged and learning up until the bell rings.
An exit task is something that students have to complete to “get out of class” when the bell rings. This can be in the form of a half sheet of paper with an essential question of the lesson or a survey or even feedback on what they are still confused about. It could come in the form of a sticky note that they leave on the board on their way out. Usually it’s a way for them to demonstrate what they learned or what they are still confused about.
(Planned) Rewarding with Free Time
If you always have something in your back pocket for the last few minutes of class, then it means so much more when you give the kids a reward of free time to talk during the last few minutes. If they get this time too much, they will come to expect it and they won’t learn to stay focused up until the every end of class. I suggest using it as a special reward from time to time, but not all the time.
Quick Spelling Bee
Not enough emphasis is placed on learning to spell in public schools. The last few minutes could be an impromptu spelling test on commonly misspelled words. They simply fold a piece of notebook paper in half and number it. Attempted words go on one side and the correct spellings go on the other side.
When I taught middle school, I went to Goodwill and found a box of Trivial Pursuit questions. I would keep them at my podium and eventually I taught the kids to grab trivia at the end of class; eventually, I had kids fighting over who wanted to lead trivia during the last few minutes of class. They had fun, learned something and stayed engaged until the end of class while I sat at my desk and got ready for the next class.
Something physical is great for those last few antsy minutes of class. This is a great chance for practicing teamwork. A really soft ball can be tossed around from student to student practicing vocabulary words. Students can “pop up” when they know the answer, allowing them to stand up instead of raising their arm to be called on.
Paper Airplane Contest
This can seem counter-intuitive when trying to practice good classroom management, but really I find that it’s better to let kids have some mischief once in awhile in a controlled environment. Nothing is more fun than hanging out some scratch paper and watching kids race to fold up the perfect flight machine under a short time limit. Line them up and have a quick little airplane contest to see whose can fly the best!
Get back to basics and review some common knowledge things. Have students get out a piece of paper and list as many U.S. States as they can, as many famous authors as they can remember, or as many verbs as they can. . . the potential is there for so many different pop quizzes.
Grab a piece of notebook paper and create a first line of a story. Have students pass this around on a time limit (ex: each student gets 5 seconds to create their sentence), pass it along and read the silly story at the end of class right before the bell rings.
Fun Video or Song
Every once in awhile, I’ll show a quick school appropriate comedy sketch that relates to our lesson. Kid President is a fun one, for example. Even some fun little noise makers like marimbas, tambourines, kazoos can be fun for short duration.
Well Known Games
This works especially well for games that are well known: 20 questions, Pictionary, Would you Rather, Telephone, etc.
Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wwworks/
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