Every teacher knows that an idle mind, hand or mouth is the devil's workshop. Providing a fun and challenging content area-related bell ringer or warm-up activity is an essential component in effective classroom management. It is a good idea to solicit ideas from students since student enjoyment and student input facilitates engagement. Selecting just the right warm-up activity will allow you to provide academic stimulation and control the class.
Assign a journal topic or allow students to select a journal topic from a list provided. Perhaps you could allow students to come up with their own topics. Students will engage more completely in the journal writing activity if they have some input. It is a good idea to store the journals on a shelf or in a particular area in the classroom. Students will be able to come in, retrieve their journal and begin writing as others enter the room.
Assign the vocabulary words of the week to be used in the creation of an original nonsense story. Set a time limit that will make the assignment competitive. The idea should be to use all of the vocabulary words in one short story, even if the words do not have a reasonable connection. Select students periodically to share their stories with the class. An element of humour often facilitates learning.
Current event writing
Pass out newspapers to the class and have students select a current event on which to write. This is an exceptional activity in that it requires students to read and write, and also acquaints them with a current event. This activity could be used to teach across the curriculum by consulting with the social studies teacher on a particular article to write about. Request that students write about politics, economics, sports or a major event.
Require students to bring a pleasure reading book to class or instruct them to select a book from the class library. Reading increases vocabulary and improves reading ability. This activity is very pleasurable to those students who enjoy reading and often have a book with them. To other students, it might be less desirable, but providing a variety of books on popular topics might increase the chance that students will open a book (and not a school textbook) for enjoyment.
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