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Using Humor in the Classroom

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Edutopia blogger Maurice Elias explains how laughter can reduce stress and offers a handful of teaching activities to lighten up the learning.
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dons's picture
dons
Fifth grade teacher

I teach 5th grade. I play jokes, use games, do silly things. It paves the way for learning. I have to see my students smile. Besides, I want to have fun in school too! :)

Sara Truebridge's picture
Sara Truebridge
Consultant, researcher, and author specializing in the area of resilience, combining my experience and expertise in the areas of research, policy, and practice to promote success and equity for all.

As moderator of the Twitterchat, #resiliencechat, on 3/30/15 we talked about humor and resilience in honor of April Fool's Day. People shared insightful information. Many of the stories about humor in the classroom were absolutely HYSTERICAL!! You can read it all here archived on Storify: https://storify.com/saratruebridge/resiliencechat-3-30-15-w-sara-truebri... ENJOY!

Lessia Bonn's picture
Lessia Bonn
co-founder I am Bullyproof Music

As a person who deals with SEL daily, I have discovered that one of the best tricks of all is teaching kids to find the funny side to dramatic situations. In my library, I have a studio recorded song (featuring the voice of a student and Justin Timberlake's drummer - whose name I won't print because it might leave you in too many stitches, I kid you not,) ELA teaching unit, music videos, and teaching videos taught by kids that all wrap around our song Scary Guy. Too often we let negative people spoil our day with their ridiculous comments. But if we get their first with a quirky positive point of view? They are toast. This is lovely. Absolutely agree! Thank you for the post. Oh, and we have an April Fool's song all about taking love lightly. Throwing that in because of the date today. Have a good one!

Matilda Clark's picture

Love this article - particularly the absolute foundation of 'no hurt' humour. A quotable humour wall is in the making and I am definitely going with humour moments every morning of test week. Thank you all.

FCH's picture
FCH
New Teacher

I believe humor provides a wonderful opportunity to connect with young scholars. An excellent occasion to incorporate humor is during a warm up or anticipatory set. I have observed many educators using their lives to comedic effect during the course of a lesson. Students respond because they recognize that their teacher makes mistakes, even embarrassing ones. But it does help that we, as educators, can laugh and make fun of ourselves.
In a recent discussion for my MSED program, I likened educators to comedians, simply because we are both social commentators. Comedians must stay abreast of current events, or they will lose their credibility. In comparison, teachers must stay abreast of the latest developments in their content area as well as current events that can affect their students' lives. While much of the news in today's world is in a serious vein, there are many offbeat stories that can make anyone smile.

While completing the training requirements for my provisional teaching license, I recall that almost all of our instructors incorporated comics within their lectures. The cartoons provided a mental break from the lesson as well time to reflect on its purpose within the lesson plan. Lately, I discovered Richard Benson's "F in "series of books, which are a collection of some of the best student test exam answers. (Example: To what was Hemingway referring with the quote 'This isn't fun anymore'? Answer: This exam.) I plan to incorporate some of the better responses in my lesson planning, as well as some of the examples Mr. Elias provided in his blog.

Hilary H's picture

I love this topic. We are always teaching to the test. We don't have much time for the "fun stuff" anymore. I teach second grade, and I have to make it interesting. I use humor everyday. I love to laugh with my students. Seeing a smile on their face helps me remember why I am there. I put funny questions, or comments in their tests to that they can even have a little fun while taking a test. I will purposely make a mistake to see them smile.

Natalie Suarez's picture

This topic is absolutely fantastic! I always try to use humor during my class because it always breaks the tension between the students and the teacher. Also, some of my students have told me how they dislike a teacher because they are always "angry" and they never smile. I teach ESOL and I always try to find humorous things from their culture and incorporate it in my class, that way I connect with their culture. Sometimes I do show my students a video at the end of the class of animals doing funny stuff or of a funny part at a cartoon show, but it is always at the end of the class, it encourages them to participate in class and do the work because they look forward to that laugh at the end of the class.

Walden's picture

I teach High school math and try to always incorporate humor in my classroom. Students love humor. It almost makes the forget that they are working on math. I always incorporate it if we are taking notes and write funny things on the notes and whenever I don't, they remind me that I am not. I think that humor brings the best out of people and it always creates a fun atmosphere. I love the fact that even though kids hate math, they always look forward to our class because they know they are going to have a good time when they don't even realize that they are doing math.

Erica Iweanoge's picture

Humor can help students relax in a classroom , usually in the morning just before I start morning meeting I always say that we need to relax and enjoy learning, and I always say something funny and we all have a good laugh, and this helps my students who are timid and afraid to express themselves and be more secure, humor is really refreshing to the student.

Cindy Mae's picture

I always use humor to grab the students attention and engage them in the lesson. Our school day has become so busy and we are not to waste a minute of precious instruction time, that humor seems to fall to the wayside. I think that is sad. We are dealing with kids and a great deal of stress from administration, humor is the perfect release. It helps me to form a relationship of respect with my students.

LizT8's picture

As a way to get my students' attention and set the tone for the day, I post a "Joke of the Day" on my board each morning. When the bell rings I stand by my podium and say, "Everyone, look to the west." Even though they're in 8th grade and know the drill, they'll wait until I direct them, and if I forget or we're interrupted they freak. Some of our best have been the following:
Q: Why does everyone get mad at the nosy pepper?
A: Because he gets jalapeno business.
Q: What did Jay-Z call his girlfriend before they got married?
A: Feyonce
Q: What is brown and rhymes with snoop?
A: Dr. Dre
Q: Is a hippopotamus a hippopotamus or is it just a really cool opotamus? RIP Mitch Hedburg

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Troy Gustafson's picture

I teach US and World history and I like to use Far side cartoons in my slide shows. I would die without humor in my classroom!

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Elizabeth Stewart's picture
Elizabeth Stewart
First Grade Teacher

Great article! I love to laugh with my students! I also love to see their reaction when I am disrupted by laughter during a lesson. They have a look of astonishment as if they are thinking "Wow, she can be silly like us!" I can remember doing my best in school with teachers who used humor in lessons. And I still think of those teachers today. Of course they are the ones who inspired me to become a teacher!

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Luke Zimmermann's picture

No problem. Here are a number of examples from the presentation under headings:

Spelling
Women get marred early.

Wrong word
I learnt to write about 2 chapters and damage it in 1 paragraph.
I learnt how to compare and contrast, problem/solution, causes and effects and graph desecration.
I chose to read short stories because I don't like tall stories.

Grammar
That's mean.
He's like a woman.
Outside world - in a shoe store:
Buy one, get one free.

Collocations
We cooked lunch and ate each other.
Pork flu.
A little bit huge.
AIDS is now very popular in South-East Asia.

And a more creative re-wording:
There is now a better opportunity to get AIDS in South-East Asia.
Similarly: The most famous disease in the UAE is Diabetes.

If you are interested in more, I have been collecting these for many years and put them all in a book "Laugh about English with Luke" which is available on my website.

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Luke Zimmermann's picture

As a teacher of English as a Second Language, I used to collect all the funny mistakes my students made in speaking and writing, and use them as a teaching tool. Of course, you don't name anyone except yourself when you use your own bloopers. What always struck me was that students immediately recognized the errors (and had a good laugh) and then never made the same mistakes again. They often remembered them months later.

When I gave a presentation on this at a large TESOL conference last month, the room was packed to overflowing 10 minutes before I was due to start. "We are just here for the jokes", one teacher said. Teachers are desperate for some humour too.

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Maurice Elias's picture
Maurice Elias
Prof. of Psychology, Director, Rutgers Social-Emotional Learning Lab, Director, the Collaborative Center for Community-Based Research and Service

Fantastic Comments!!

I am very tempted to make a blog out of all the fantastic comments, and may well do so for the start of the next school year. But meanwhile, i want to particularly comment on David's post, which shows that using humor is, as much as anything else, about being relaxed in the classroom, realizing that reaching and engaging all students is the goal, not using one specific pedagogy, and that humor, creativity, and the multiple intelligences beyond verbal-linguistic and logical-mathematical have a powerful place in our classrooms and all other learning environments.

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Mike Raven's picture
Mike Raven
Former Head of Department (Science), Teacher, Brisbane, Qld., Aust

Just to add a couple of thoughts Maurice.

No question, humor is a great tool. But I would be careful not to have it come across as "forced humor" (or go across like a lead balloon) particularly by a teacher who is not initially comfortable with using humor. Otherwise the kids who are very perceptive might begin seeing you as the humor - and perhaps weakening your classroom management and control.

My advice. Start off slowly - create a warm and relaxed atmosphere and then increase the humor. If it is a little weak the kids will be more forgiving because they are comfortable and they "like" you.

I have found that humor does help build a great relationship with a class as long as they understand where the line is drawn (as you said in the article, no "put-downs" please). It really does help engagement and motivation. Also a student loyalty develops - and this rubs-off at home (making parent-teacher night easier !). If your lucky, you may receive a few more presents at Christmas - and have more students come and say goodbye to you at the end of Year 12 !

Some classes, however, might be much more difficult to control and so using humor (no matter how good) could result in you being perceived as an easy target. I'll leave it at that.

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Richard Black's picture

I wear a different tie every day of the year. They are all hanging along a wall in my classroom and a kid chooses my tie each morning. Once this became a thing, I was given ties by people everywhere. Fun times.

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Resources for Using iPads in Grades 6-8

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Monica Burns
Looking for advice on integrating iPads in middle school classrooms? In this curated guide, we’ve compiled resources to help you find apps, learn about best practices, and explore ideas for engaging activities.

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MathyCathy's picture
MathyCathy
Middle School Mathematics Teacher with a 1:1 iPad Classroom in Austin, TX

Additionally, here are just a few ways ThingLink can help with student content-creation, as well as a "table of contents plane" for links that students will easily access, all in one place!

http://www.mathycathy.com/blog/tag/thinglink/

Monica Burns's picture
Monica Burns
EdTech & Curriculum Consultant, ADE , ClassTechTips.com

Thanks Cathy for adding resources for Nearpod and ThingLink - two fantastic tech tools!

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Teacher Appreciation: Planning Resources for Parents

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In preparation for National Teacher Appreciation Month in May, Edutopia has collected tips and ideas for parents looking for the right way to tell educators, “Thank you.”

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Editable Sample Rubric

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Katherine Katter's picture

Biggest problem: Competent is a synonym of Proficient. So I would change that column to "Inadequate" or "Developing."

John S. Thomas's picture
John S. Thomas
First & Second Grade Teacher/Adjunct faculty Antioch University New England

For that column I also like "Partially Proficient" or "Needs Improvement."

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John S. Thomas's picture
John S. Thomas
First & Second Grade Teacher/Adjunct faculty Antioch University New England

For that column I also like "Partially Proficient" or "Needs Improvement."

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15+ Ways of Teaching Every Student to Code (Even Without a Computer)

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Vicki Davis, a computer science teacher and IT integrator, shares this extensive list of year-round resources for teaching students how to code.

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GGJim's picture
GGJim
Account Executive - GG|Interactive

Vicki,

Thanks for the article. I would love to be considered as a resource. We are a game development studio who have created a curriculum for schools to teach game design and game programming. We too are planning some things for schools for the Hour of Code. If you would look at our curriculum and let me know what you think I would appreciate it. our site is www.gginteractive.com .

Thanks again for your article and any input you have for me.

Victor Small Jr's picture
Victor Small Jr
9/10th Grade English Teacher from San Jose, California

I generally use codeacademy.org myself, but snap sounds interesting as well as the other links you posted. Thanks for this.

Fatima Ateeque's picture

Thanks for sharing such a comprehensive list. You might want to check us out as well, we are an edTech Start-up and our focus is to bring Coding to every child across the country. We have put together a week long virtual Coding Camp, and we would love feedback from you. Please do check it out: http://www.knodemy.com/codecamp.php
Our mission is to educate and Give Back to the community too, so for every sign up on our platform, we are delivering an online tutoring lesson to underprivileged schools.

Jeremy Keeshin's picture

Hi Vicki--

Thanks for the great article! My name is Jeremy and I'm one of the co-founders of CodeHS. Just wanted to make sure you could share that with your readers as a great option for teaching the Hour of Code to high schoolers, and then teaching a year long computer science class beyond that.

Here is the hour of code link: http://codehs.com/hourofcode

And here is the site: http://codehs.com

If anyone has questions for us, email hello@codehs.com

Mark Kaercher's picture

As a high school math teacher, an easy tool for coding are the TI graphing calculators. I teach them how to write simple programs that do calculations for all areas of HS math. We have written programs for slope, distance, midpoint, quadratic formula. I also show them how to write a simple guessing game program where the calculator picks a random number and the user tries to guess it. Almost all of the students have a calculator, and they really enjoy the power of writing their own programs.

GGJim's picture
GGJim
Account Executive - GG|Interactive

We actually have made our curriculum free for your schools first year if the teacher or admin signs up by Jan 5th. It is "Computer Science in Game Design" it is roughly 160 hours worth of curriculum, in both design and basic programming. For hour of code we have set up a unique "Massively multi-player coding experience" Where everyone picks a line of code and hopefully they agree on where to make the rat move to find their cheese. Very fun. here is the site if anyone is interested in using it this week for hour of code. Its called code;Rat http://www.gginteractive.com/computer-science-education-week/

Sophia Dumont's picture
Sophia Dumont
Microsoft Developer turned Mom

Apart from apps , I found a series called 'Coding Palz' in Amazon that teaches 3-7 year olds.

The stories are fun filled with beautiful illustrations.

My children love it.

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Resources for Using iPads in Grades 3-5

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Monica Burns
Looking for advice on integrating iPads in grades 3-5? In this curated guide, we've compiled resources to help you find apps, learn about best practices, and explore ideas for engaging activities.

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Elana Leoni's picture
Elana Leoni
Director of Social Media Strategy and Marketing @Edutopia, edcamp organizer

Just came across this list of good elementary apps to use in the classroom and they are all FREE: http://mattbgomez.com/great-apps-for-elementary-2/.

Here's the list if you don't want to click over to the blog:

Brainpop Apps
AR Flashcards: Animal Alphabet
ColAR
ABC Magic Apps
Venn Diagram
Geoboard
Daisy the Dino
Hopscotch App
ABCMouse Apps
Haiku Deck
My Script Calculator
Educreations
Skitch
Class Dojo
Pic Collage
Toontastic
Adobe Voice
ChatterPix
Blokify
Tellagami

Susan Chen's picture

My school has purchased one classroom set of iPads a year ago. We are all eager to make the most use of this investment to further develop our students' skill with technology. It is not enough to have an assortment of apps available for the students to access. This article is helpful in reminding us that we need to choose carefully the apps. We need to consider how and when to best implement the use of technology in the classroom. I will be sharing this article with my school.

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Susan Chen's picture

My school has purchased one classroom set of iPads a year ago. We are all eager to make the most use of this investment to further develop our students' skill with technology. It is not enough to have an assortment of apps available for the students to access. This article is helpful in reminding us that we need to choose carefully the apps. We need to consider how and when to best implement the use of technology in the classroom. I will be sharing this article with my school.

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Sample Maker Rubric

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Resources for Using iPads in Grades K-2

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Monica Burns
Looking for advice on integrating iPads in K-2 classrooms? In this curated guide, we've compiled resources to help you find apps, learn about best practices, and explore ideas for engaging activities.

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Karen Lirenman's picture
Karen Lirenman
Grade One/Two Teacher from Vancouver, Canada

As an Apple Distiguished Educator, the 2013 ISTE Kay L Bitter Award Winner for Innovation in a PK-2 Classroom, and a grade one teacher who has been 1:1 with iPads for the past two years my students' "go to" apps are pretty much creative open ended ones. Some popular apps include Draw and Tell, Book Creator, My Story, Skitch, Popplet, Pic Collage, EduCreations, Chatterpix, Explain Everything, and iMovie. I have blogged about how we use iPads for choice. I also shared screen shots of my students iPads with direct links to samples of how they have used those apps. My blog can be found at www.learningandsharingwithMsL.blogspot.com . I have also begun to create a K-2 iPad resource on my district's website which can be found here. https://www.surreyschools.ca/sites/E8JU47CFNJ/Pages/default.aspx Please feel free to contact me for more information re using iPads in a k-2 classroom. I am @klirenman on twitter.

Ashley Cronin's picture
Ashley Cronin
Digital Resource Curator

Karen, thanks for reaching out and sharing the info about your blog and K-2 iPad resources site. Very helpful!

Kristi Meeuwse's picture
Kristi Meeuwse
Kindergarten Teacher, Charleston SC

Monica,
Thanks for including my blog in this round up! What an honor! We work diligently in kindergarten to create content and not just consume it. The creation apps we use are very engaging and the kids always produce far more than I ever expect them to. We use Explain Everything, Book Creator, Popplet, Pic Collage, and iMovie the most.

Monica Burns's picture
Monica Burns
EdTech & Curriculum Consultant, ADE , ClassTechTips.com

Thanks Karen and Kristi for adding your favorite apps and helpful links!

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14 Virtual Tools for the Math Classroom

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Edutopia blogger Monica Burns presents a wealth of iPad apps to transform daily math lessons for elementary students.
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Kara Carpenter's picture
Kara Carpenter
Former teacher, expert in cognition & learning, and co-founder of Teachley

Plus, there's some great research that backs up your point. Check out Doug Clements work about the advantages of virtual manipulatives in early childhood mathematics or more recent research that shows a combination of physical and virtual manipulatives to be most effective:

Clements (1999). 'Concrete' Manipulatives, Concrete Ideas. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood. 1 (1).

Zachariam, Olympiou, and Papaevripidou (2008). Effects of experimenting with physical and virtual manipulatives on students' conceptual understanding in heat and temperature. Journal of Research in Science Teaching. 45 (9).

MrsPincock's picture

Used the Number Pieces Basic (newer version by same creator & which I like better) today to help a struggling student. I had just downloaded it this morning. What did the student do? Ask to do more math in her free time! Thanks for the info ...

Alejandro Gomez Arangua's picture

"Decir que la matematica se puede ensenar con hojas de calculo es como decir que un nino puede tener unas vacaciones mirando un folleto"
"Saying math can be taught with worksheets is like saying a child can have a vacation by looking at a brochure" - @d_martin05

Samantha Edwards's picture
Samantha Edwards
2nd grade teacher from Kingsford, Michigan

Thank you for the great resources, Monica!
My colleagues and I were just discussing apps for using geoboards today! I will definitely be passing on the information tomorrow!
I also agree that using concrete models first is important, but the virtual experience is a fantastic supplement (and the students love using the iPad whenever they can!)
I also have students who gain iPad time as a part of their reward systems. It does work and helps to increase desired behavior in my classroom.
I am looking forward to introducing your recommendations to all of my students!

Alejandro Gomez Arangua's picture

Children must know what is a binomio before using virtual tools,too much of them,give poor results for USA in international tests.

Dennis Pack's picture

You do realise there are more affordable devices other than iPads? Those of us that work in developing countries iPads are out of reach ... but then again, we are more concerned about human rights violations in factories that produce these devices.
A more balanced approach to educational resources would be appreciated.

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Tools for Teaching: Managing a Large Class Size

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Do you have more than 30 students? Check out these strategies for keeping a large group of kids engaged and managed.
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Susan Weikel Morrison's picture
Susan Weikel Morrison
Science Education Program Developer, Sci-Q Systems

Keep a really good seating chart - in pencil. At the beginning of the year, put each child's reading and math levels next to their name. This will help you tailor your discussion questions to them.

It is very important that you call on all students equally and skip no one, so that kids know they can't hide behind playing dumb. Wait for answers. Coach answers. But do what you have to do to get success.

Leave space around the edge of the room and down the center so you can easily move around while you're teaching.

Put the weakest students nearest to you and/or partnered with a strong student. Make the strong student explicitly responsible for assisting the weaker student's learning. It will help the stronger student review material and develop better empathy and social skills.

Have students check each others' homework and assign a letter grade to it based on the percent correct. Tell them which percentages go with which letter. Have baskets on your desk labeled A,B,C and D,F. Have monitors collect the papers. Every kid should turn in a paper, even if it's blank. Have monitors be responsible that every kid turns in a paper and that every paper has a name on it. Monitors place the papers in the appropriate basket based on grade.

As soon as possible, when you are not directly teaching and the kids are engaged in an activity, call up the kids with papers in the D-F basket, one by one, and find out what their problem was. Assign a solution - a demerit for laziness, peer tutoring or small group re-instruction for lack of understanding, extra time if there was a family emergency, finishing the homework after school or at recess, a call to a parent, etc. Be frank with the kids: the only grades that count for report cards are tests and projects. Homework grades are just to check for understanding.

As for essays, have students write regularly according to specific criteria. When the essays are collected, scan them to be sure students generally met the criteria, but don't grade them. Return essays that haven't met criteria. Put the completed essays in a folder. After you've collected a certain number (for you to decide), return all essays. Have each student select which of his/her essays is the best one. Have them polish and re-write their essays, partnered with another student who will read and critique their work as they improve it. The polished essays are returned to you for grading. You also might photocopy them and create a class magazine. Those publications were always quite popular with my students and parents.

Do science labs in quads. Do not assign roles. Rather, have each child be a number from 1 to 4. When a task needs to be done, say the number of the doer. For example, No. Ones get the rock samples from the science table. No. Twos lay all your rocks out on your desks. No. Threes, find an igneous rock and tell the group how an igneous rock is made. And so on. Keep the lesson going really fast to keep the kids on their toes.

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Ellen Z.'s picture
Ellen Z.
Reading Specialist from Hellertown, PA

One idea may be to also have a "quiet" collaboration project, and have the students write collaboratively. Over the summer, I discovered a fun creative writing site for elementary students called Cubert's Writing Cube. This website streamlines the process of writing and is very user-friendly, colorful, and fun. It is Wiki based, and a great platform for collaborative story writing. There are interactive story-starters which make it impossible to suffer from writer's block, and there is a "gallery" where the students can draw illustrations or upload them. Here are some of the other benefits the site :

* Getting feedback from you and peers within the cube makes it easier to edit and revise and they resist it less.
* Students can access it at home to do their homework or add more detail to their illustrations.
* When they publish their writing, students can choose how to share it, with friends and parents.
* There is a lesson shelf for teacher, a great resource to get ideas on how to get started!
* The entire writing process (and papers) are accessible from a single place.

Keith Heggart's picture
Keith Heggart
High School Teacher from Sydney, Australia

Scary thoughts about increasing class sizes - surely, you'd think, we'd be heading towards smaller class sizes. Anyway, these are great tips - and some excellent ideas in the comments, too. One tip that I've often found useful is devoting time each cycle for a little 1:1 session with each student, so that you can get a clearer picture of what's happening for that individual. A little individual time can be so valuable.

BieberQOU_durin's picture

Huge numbers of classes are naturally and inevitably scary to teachers because there is an immense possibility of failing to organize and successfully manage the class. But the teacher who is really a teacher in the calling finds way for his treasured commitment.

Mrs. Parks's picture
Mrs. Parks
High school English teacher

Most of my classes are in the low 30s, even up to 40 students. My challenge is simply that in my larger classes, I can't monitor behavior as effectively as I can in smaller classes.

During work time, I'm okay with the conversational volume that comes with collaboration, but I get so frustrated with students wasting work time. It seems that the more I assist students who need help, the more other students take advantage of my diverted attention. I struggle to police cell phone usage, keep track of how long students are in the bathroom, etc. while trying to actually teach.

We established community expectations as a class at the beginning of the semester, but I struggle knowing what behaviors to enforce. When I pick my battles, students see that as condoning inappropriate behavior and off-task behavior escalates, but I can't address every infraction either, or I spend all my time in a disciplinary mode rather than instructing. Any suggestions?

Audra Winters's picture
Audra Winters
Retired, but active educator!

I find it a very daunting task to keep students using indoor voices while working in small groups. Although there is collaboration going on, a lot of time is spent socializing. It's a situation that needs redefining with a group of 25 students. Students also think that it's o.k.if the work is complete, to chatter.

Jennifer Jones CCSD's picture

My classroom, fire coded for fifty three, ballooned up into the 70s. I had to place kids outdoors and in the hallway. I don't care how good you are. You can't teach around this. Try to look at this from the students' perspective. How could you not feel undervalued? Often we teachers complain that our students do not value their education, but the apple does not fall far from the societal tree. How can we demand for our students to value their education when they are treated like this? Preaching to the choir... I know, I know.... But thank you for allowing me the forum to express this. It is very hard day in, day out.

taja_tt's picture
taja_tt
TAJA TT® a paradigm changing teaching system

I am grateful for the tips and sympathize with difficulities of teaching large classes, even up over 50 students sometimes for me. These tips i will keep in mind.

reflecting on this article makes see so much clearer just how much better a class, esp a large class, can be taught and managed with 2 teachers. with one teacher the classroom management itself is a big struggle not to mention getting individual or small group attention to a sizeable portion of the students,...and all the while still tap into the class mood and give necessary motivational boost or bring them to inspirationi... but with 2 teachers....ah....both teachers can breathe easier, classroom management virtually takes care of itself and presentation of content is smoother, faster and more impressive as 2 teachers can tap into the mindset of modern day kids....and well in those kinds of conditions a teacher is ripe to get inspired and thus inspire the kids!

sometimes i like to teach solo, but when i teach a few in a row solo, esp. with the big classes, i again see how effective, powerful and relaxing 2 teachers in one classroom is and look forward to the next chance to partner with a colleague and "dance" in the classroom.

wishing you Peace, Harmony and Prosperity

Megan Colon's picture

I just completed my first year of teaching. My mentor and the other veteran teacher on my grade level kept saying that my class size will decrease. By the time it was the end of the year, I had 25 students. Majority of my class was not reading on grade level. It was a challenge to teach and keep 25 third graders focused. After reading the tips, I really liked tip 1 and tip 2. I can't give up on grouping because I can have my higher level students work with the lower level students. As long as my students are working together in the give, let it be loud.

Susan Weikel Morrison's picture
Susan Weikel Morrison
Science Education Program Developer, Sci-Q Systems

Keep a really good seating chart - in pencil. At the beginning of the year, put each child's reading and math levels next to their name. This will help you tailor your discussion questions to them.

It is very important that you call on all students equally and skip no one, so that kids know they can't hide behind playing dumb. Wait for answers. Coach answers. But do what you have to do to get success.

Leave space around the edge of the room and down the center so you can easily move around while you're teaching.

Put the weakest students nearest to you and/or partnered with a strong student. Make the strong student explicitly responsible for assisting the weaker student's learning. It will help the stronger student review material and develop better empathy and social skills.

Have students check each others' homework and assign a letter grade to it based on the percent correct. Tell them which percentages go with which letter. Have baskets on your desk labeled A,B,C and D,F. Have monitors collect the papers. Every kid should turn in a paper, even if it's blank. Have monitors be responsible that every kid turns in a paper and that every paper has a name on it. Monitors place the papers in the appropriate basket based on grade.

As soon as possible, when you are not directly teaching and the kids are engaged in an activity, call up the kids with papers in the D-F basket, one by one, and find out what their problem was. Assign a solution - a demerit for laziness, peer tutoring or small group re-instruction for lack of understanding, extra time if there was a family emergency, finishing the homework after school or at recess, a call to a parent, etc. Be frank with the kids: the only grades that count for report cards are tests and projects. Homework grades are just to check for understanding.

As for essays, have students write regularly according to specific criteria. When the essays are collected, scan them to be sure students generally met the criteria, but don't grade them. Return essays that haven't met criteria. Put the completed essays in a folder. After you've collected a certain number (for you to decide), return all essays. Have each student select which of his/her essays is the best one. Have them polish and re-write their essays, partnered with another student who will read and critique their work as they improve it. The polished essays are returned to you for grading. You also might photocopy them and create a class magazine. Those publications were always quite popular with my students and parents.

Do science labs in quads. Do not assign roles. Rather, have each child be a number from 1 to 4. When a task needs to be done, say the number of the doer. For example, No. Ones get the rock samples from the science table. No. Twos lay all your rocks out on your desks. No. Threes, find an igneous rock and tell the group how an igneous rock is made. And so on. Keep the lesson going really fast to keep the kids on their toes.

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