5 Minutes To Go In The Classroom

These teaching tips are all to be used when you have extra time after a lesson and looking fill in time.

Teaching Idea

"Ticket to Leave"
Sue Krummrei, Teacher - HS Science, Health, Distance Ed

With 5 minutes left in class, I like to have the kids provide an answer to a basic question relating to facts presented or concepts taught in the course. They are provided with a small form that has an appropriate graphic on it. The heading may be "AHA" or "I Still Don't Get It" or "The most important thing I learned today" OR it could be an answer to one of 10-15 questions I display on an overhead.

They have to write their answer and present it to me on their way out the door. If it calls for something factual (usually basic questions) the answer must be correct before they leave. In that case, they may choose another question.

If the response is just an impression or a question, they may leave as soon as they turn in their paper. I use the papers as feedback the next day, and may even select from them as a pool of "volunteers" or to call on students as part of a review.

The students enjoy ending the class on an energetic note. I find the feedback invaluable in evaluating my success with the class on a given lesson. I enjoy the basis for reviewing the following day. The students enjoy "Feedback!"

Teaching Idea

Journal Writing
Dick, 5th Grade Teacher: Kansas City, Missouri

"Journal writing is a great way to close a lesson. It keeps the kids focused and provides an opportunity for them to express their thoughts in a constructive way. You should always give them a focus question or something you want them to reflect on and write about in their journal related to what you expected them to learn. In this case, you should also check their journals to see if they are on track with what you wanted them to learn."

Teaching Idea

Have Games Available
Jennifer, Primary Grade Teacher: Tallahassee, FL

"Journal writing is a great way to close a lesson. It keeps the kids focused and provides an opportunity for them to express their thoughts in a constructive way. You should always give them a focus question or something you want them to reflect on and write about in their journal related to what you expected them to learn. In this case, you should also check their journals to see if they are on track with what you wanted them to learn."

Teaching Idea

Make a List to Reinforce Learning
Roberta, 3rd Grade Teacher: Syracuse, NY

"Use the last five minutes of a lesson to get your students to tell you what they learned as a result of the lesson. A large chart in front of the room is a great way to poll students' responses so that all can benefit. Students can copy what you write on the chart during free time or while you are recording the responses. You can leave the chart up for the remainder of the day, or tear off the sheet and tape it somewhere in the classroom for students to access during the day. It also serves as a great reminder. You can then save it and refer to it during review. This is also can be done with a PowerPoint presentation if you have technology available."

Teaching Idea

"All Tied Up!"
Jimmy Fischer, Elementary Specialist: Idaho

This activity requires a large ball of string.

Have the students sit in a circle and emphasize that they must remain in their seats (for safety reasons). The game starts by a child or the teacher saying the name of someone else in the circle and holding on to the end of the string, while throwing the ball to the person they named. The receiver calls out the name of another child, and keeps hold of his or her end of the string while throwing the ball of string on to the named child. As this continues a tangled web begins to be formed by the crossing of strings.

When the web is completed the group has to undo the web by calling names and throwing the ball of string which is rewound by the receiver before sending it on.

Teaching Idea

Provide an Outline After Each Lesson
Ann, 6th Grade Teacher/Special Ed: Los Angeles, CA

"Give your students an outline of everything that you expected them to get from your lesson during the last five minutes of the lesson. Go over the outline with the students and ask them if there are any questions that they may have. Leave a line for them to write in a question that they may have or ask the teacher assistant to help where needed. Collect the questions and tell the students that you will address the questions the next day or when you return to that lesson."

Teaching Idea

Always Have a Good Book Handy
Diane, 3rd Grade Teacher: New York City

"Have a book to read from when you find that you have "5 minutes left to go." Choose a book that you know will be interesting to your students and is related to what they are learning. Tell them that you will be reading five minutes from this book when you have any time left...be it at dismissal, before lunch, transition time before specials start, or any free time that is available. It tends to calm students down before they are on the move. It is also a good way to develop listening skills and appreciation for story time."

Teaching Idea

Optical Illusions Save The Day!
Charlie Rose, 5th grade teacher: Boise, Idaho

"Every year I buy deck of cards called "Optical Illusions" from my neighborhood teacher supply store. I find this very handy to teach children about perspective. No matter what subject you teach, we are all trying to help kids look at things differently. Let's say I'm teaching a Social Studies lesson about a battle or conflict of some kind. At the end of the lesson I'll pass around my optical Illusion cards. I'll then ask the students what they saw. Because they are optical illusions, it is rare that everyone will see the same thing. Again great for teaching perspective. It saved me during an observation once, but I guess that's another war story."

Teaching Idea

Who Wants To Be A Dollarnaire!
Tracy Peters, 7th Grade English Teacher: West Field, New Jersey

"This idea cost me about 35 dollars a year, but I have actually worked it into my supply budget for next year. We all know Regis and his famous nightly game show. I decided to use the same game for 5-10 minutes at the end of third day of class. I randomly choose one child who answers a series of 10 questions. Of course, all of the questions are content based from class material and they increase in difficulty. I also allow them to phone a teacher (my Principal allowed it due to the success of the game), give them a 50:50 option, and allow them to poll the classroom. This is also great if you finish early on any day. The dollar values are increments of 10 cents with safeties of 25 cents, 50 cents, and 75 cents. The dollar is the ultimate prize. I have to admit you wouldn't think that a dollar could entice anyone, but then again I work with twelve year olds."

Teaching Idea

"Silent Ball"
Mary, 2nd Grade Teacher: Michigan

"When faced with 5 minutes before or after an activity/event, try this! Using a coush ball, or something similar, the students arranged in a circle or by their desk, toss the ball to another student. The student must catch the ball, then throw it to someone else within 3 seconds. Students must alternate players to ensure everyone gets a turn. If a student drops the ball, something is said, or they take more than 3 seconds to toss, they are disqualified. The last 3 people remaining at the end of the designated time, collect a prize. Students self monitor the game. Variations can be incorporated, such as 1 hand catch, under throw, behind the back throw."

Teaching Idea

"Thumbs Up!"
Sonya, 5th Grade Teacher: Nevada

"Choose two students to stand up and have all the other students put their heads down on their desks with their eyes closed and a thumb sticking up. The two left standing must then move around the desks and gently touch just one person each on the thumb. All students are then to open their eyes. The two students who had their thumbs touched, must then guess who touched their thumb. If they get it right the children swap places if not the children have to go again. This game is great to use for settling a class down after after a busy day and it improves their listening skills."

Teaching Idea

"Object Of The Week"
Kim Newiles, Chestermills Middle Schoo

"I found a great way to help students critically think and expand their view of their world. I present students with a unique object each week. The object should be something that students see everyday, but usually take of granted. For example, the last object I used was a steering wheel.

Each day of the week, I take five minutes to discuss the object with students. Most topics of conversation include: Inventor, materials used, modern uses, how the object works in concert with other parts, what can be done to make it better, what the future holds for the object.

The concept of this procedure is very simple, but it opens students minds to higher levels of thinking. Over the last four years, we have had some great discussions. I always look forward to talking about the future of the object. Students always hold theories I would never think of. It's a very engaging activity for both students and teachers."

Teaching Idea

"Super Story"
Kyle Newing: Grade 5-6 Teacher

"If I find that I finish a lesson quicker than I planned, I always do a Super Story with my students. It is a simple activity. I present my teacher pen to students. The double-sided red-blue pen. Children love just to hold the pen. I write a single sentence on the board to start the super story. I then pass the pen and the Super Story paper to a student. This student must now add two sentences to the super story. When they are finished, they pass the pen and paper to another student. This student must first read the entire story to class from the beginning. After reading, the student must also add two sentences. We continue this through the entire class. Once every student writes, we finish the story as a class. I find the best way is to have students brainstorm and then vote on the ending."

Teaching Idea

"Do Now!"
Charlotte Babishkin, Middle Level Teacher

This was my second year teaching. One technique that really improved my classroom management and overall success with my students was the use of a daily "Do Now!" activity. I have 6 classes throughout an average school daily. Our periods are 45 minutes in length.

During my first year of teaching, I had a lot of trouble getting the students settled and focused. This process would take any where from 5 to 10 minutes.

On the advice of a senior colleague, I started using "Do Now!" activities. I write a quick assignment on the board that requires 5 minutes of my students time. The assignment reviews the past day's lesson.

This technique turned 5 wasted minutes into an engaging activity. It also helps me assess the students on a daily basis. I highly recommend it!