Today, my wife and I toured a school that we are considering for our (present) fourth grader to move into when he starts sixth grade. It was a great little school with a motivated, engaged staff from whom I stole an idea or two that I think I can apply to my own teaching and am eager to start in with.
The first was the idea of starting every class with ‘Bell Ringers’, short worksheets that joggle students’ memories with concepts and simple questions that review prior work and provide a glimpse into future study. I’m not sure exactly how he operates these assignments, i.e. cooperative work vs single-person exercises and whether they are actually graded for a score or not. Regardless, I think they represent a fun way to get into the proper state of mind at the beginning of each class.
An article about these kind of exercises can be found at the Edutopia website.
In the same article, I found another activity that is used to open classes that I may consider using to finish each day. That idea, roundtable review, has students compile a list of idea-statements discussed in that class. I was thinking that this might be a good way to collaboratively compile a list of study notes. Maybe the best, or best-stated, idea can receive extra credit (??).
Both of these techniques echo ideas that I have been trying to come up with a way to actualize for some time. Perhaps this is just the right nudge I need to get started.