Even the most experienced teachers will sometimes find that keeping students on task is not always easy. Once you have adopted good classroom management techniques (https://bcotb.com/tips-for-improving-behavior-in-the-classroom-part-1/), the next step is to maximize the extra teaching time you now have. Below are some tips for keeping students on task:
- Minimize down time. The more down time students have, the more likely it is that they will begin to engage in off-task behavior. In addition, longer time spent off task means longer time getting back on task. Begin instruction as immediately as possible to ensure smooth transitions between activities. Fillers for in-between academic tasks should be written into lesson plans to ensure that students are always busy. For younger children, this may mean developing a choice box for each student filled with a few academically related activities that can be rotated out periodically to prevent boredom. For older children, this can mean having them do specific activities as they complete their schoolwork such as allowing them to read books or complete worksheets that cover previously reviewed materials.
- Move around the classroom often. Student performance increases simply by teachers being in close proximity. Teachers should walk around the room often and provide assistance and feedback to students, when necessary.
- Use active student responding. Studies show that active responding increases instruction time,learning, as well as student attention at little to no cost. Examples of active responding are:
- Choral responding– Choral responding occurs when all of the students in the classroom are expected to answer in unison to a question. Teachers are able to give accurate feedback to the class immediately to ensure that all students understand the material.
- Response cards– Response cards consist of cards or signs that all students hold up in response to a question. They can either be blank (i.e. dry erase) or pre-printed (i.e. yes/no), but should be large enough to be legible. Response cards allow teachers to give immediate feedback and target material that may be difficult to students.
- Guided notes– Guided notes usually consist of a written summary of the covered material with missing words or phrases. Students must pay attention in order to fill in the missing words or phrases as they go along. Guided notes can also act as a study guide after they have been completed.
- Give frequent positive reinforcement. If students receive frequent positive reinforcement for attending, staying on task, and responding to questions, the student will be motivated to exhibit these behaviors in the future. Positive reinforcement can be provided in the form of praise, appropriate touch (i.e. pats on the back, high 5, etc.), or access to tangibles or privileges. A token economy is also a great way to provide positive reinforcement to students at a low cost. Stay tuned to part 3 of the blog for more information on token economies videos on tv using to cast videos on to your TV.
What tips do you have for keeping kids engaged and active during teaching? Your comments are appreciated.