Teaser Teachers

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One of my Super Bowl highlights is the glut of new movie trailers during the commercials.  Never mind that the 20 seconds or so may or may not actually wind up in the actual film.

Nowadays, most of these trailers go straight to the internet before the Super Bowl.  And now we don’t just have trailers, but also teasers, which are basically trailers for the trailers.

Here are a couple of teasers and/or trailers that caught my eye this year.  (Don’t blink.)

Cool, huh?  Even a few seconds can get the adrenaline pumping.

So how about us teachers?  How can we take some Hollywood magic and use it to “tease” our students?

A common practice is the use of bell work (or bell ringer), which helps with classroom management and should engage students in thinking.  Many teachers use bell work to review something from a past lesson or preview something  for the immediate next lesson.

Bell work helps create a useful routine in which students start the class (not the bell or the teacher) and the teacher can use these few minutes for taking attendance, addressing specific students’ needs, or other important tasks.

There are several resources out there for using “puzzlers” or trivia for bell work.  These are good in a pinch, and some can even foster meaningful discussions about students’ personal views and experiences.  Here is a variety of bell ringers from Kentucky (home state of mutant siblings Sam Guthrie a.k.a. Cannonball and Paige Guthrie a.k.a. Husk).

cannonball_and_husk_color_by_graconius-d5p11rs

Thanks, Kentucky and Graconius.  We owe ya both.

This is a start, and such resources are good for some days.  But let’s go beyond student/time management and really get students excited (or at least interested).

What sort of question or prompt can you pose on a given day that will not only get the students to work, but get them to think more deeply about the content you want them to learn?  How can you “tease” them?

Here are a few paired examples.  One bland, one better.  Reflect on these ideas to create or modify your own bell work prompts for upcoming classes.

BLAND: Please open your book to page 16.

BETTER: Please open your book to page 16.  Examine the two photos and write down as many similarities you can find.

BLAND: Please get out yesterday’s homework.

BETTER: Please review your homework with a neighbor and discuss any discrepancies in your answers.  Who is correct?  How do you know?

BLAND: Please copy the vocabulary words on the board.

BETTER: Pick out your favorite vocabulary word and draw a picture related to that term.  Share your sketch with a partner and see if they can guess the word.

See?  Not that hard to take a basic task and make it better (i.e. increase the students’ interest).

In addition to bell work at the start of class, teachers should tease their students at the end of class.

End-of-class activities often focus on a “wrap-up” or recap in which the class reviews what they learned that day.  If you do such activities, be sure to have the students tell YOU what they’ve learned, instead of you just telling them what they should have learned.

Strategies such as the Exit Slip or Ticket-out-the-Door provide other opportunities for students to share what they have (or have not) learned.  Teachers can prompt students to apply the content to a new situation.

Don’t make it a simple task.  Tease the students with a challenge or question that gets them wondering and thinking between the end of class and the next time they return to you.  It’s okay to leave students in suspense sometimes!

So here’s a challenge:

What’s your best “end of day” or “start of day” strategy?  Post a comment and share below!

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