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 LifeKnowledge Spotlight: Who's Exhausted at the End of the Day?

The last bell of the day has rung, and students enthusiastically hustle out to the buses and their cars. They are making plans for the evening, and their energy level seems to have sky-rocketed. An hour later the teachers make their way out to their cars, exhausted from the day.

Does this scenario sound familiar? At the end of the day, our students have heaps of energy left to expend, and we teachers are worn out.

How can we engage our students more in the learning process? Here are four ways to allow your students to put more effort into their learning.

The use of e-Moments is one way to allow students to discover new information for themselves. An introductory e-Moment such as the Little Professor Moment, allows students to take ownership of learning the information and holds them accountable for relaying the information on to their classmates.

Secondly, when they are able to explore and then define information, it is more likely to be remembered. One example of this method may be to allow students to explore different types of soil, write characteristics describing each type and, once they have discovered the characteristics for themselves, add labels to the samples. In education we call this discovery before labeling. Not only will you find yourself repeating the core content less and spending less time lecturing, your students will also be better prepared to participate in and make connections in extended-thinking activities. Help them to remember and save your breath.

Delegate, delegate, delegate! Classroom chores and maintaining a lab can be a lot of work. Delegating tasks to students helps them learn responsibility and grow as they serve in the classroom. Try using a delegating system in your classroom such as a chore-wheel, where students spin the wheel to determine their responsibility for the day or week. Allow the students to take ownership of the lab by assigning a lab foremen system, giving each student a chance to be accountable.

Another way to delegate and engage students in the learning process is to print off a LifeKnowledge lesson and allow a responsible student to lead the class for the day. LifeKnowledge lessons are fully-scripted with all the activity sheets and assessments necessary to teach an entire class period. You’ll keep the students engaged and have them walking away with a peer-to-peer learning experience.

Lastly, the use of effective directions will save time and energy. Within the LifeKnowledge lessons are some great examples of effective directions. Committing yourself to utilizing the key components of effective directions can alter the organization of a class period immensely. How much energy do you put forth giving directions to the class, repeating yourself because they weren’t clear, or the students simply stopped listening as soon as you said “While working with a partner I want you to…”? Directions are a necessity every day in the classroom. Here are some tips on delivering them successfully:

Effective direction review: Make use of action verbs, attention signals, time limits, beginning signals, and don’t forget to check for understanding. It may sound something like this: “When you hear the word LIST, write down as many commodities produced by our state as you can think of on a scrap piece of paper. We will have 60 seconds. What questions do you have? LIST.”

Another great time-saving way to check for understanding is to have one of your students repeat the directions back to the rest of the class. The class will hear the set of directions twice, but you only said them once. This will keep the students more attentive if they know the potential of being called on is there.

From e-Moments to checking for understanding, there are lots of ways to keep students involved. Let’s commit ourselves this year to allowing our students to work more and put more effort into their learning. Put the class in motion and step back into the master facilitator’s role—not that of the task master.