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Use a range of different activities

Sue Cowley offers practical tips on managing your class and delivering your lessons

We can get a bit stuck using the same old approaches lesson after lesson.

Often the teacher explaining a topic to the class, then the children doing some written work on that subject. Why not try something new and even a little bit daring this term? Using plenty of varied activities will help you really appeal to children with different learning styles.

* Use lots of active approaches: If your pupils have to sit and listen for too long, they are likely to get restless and start to mess around. Think up ways of incorporating more activity into your lessons. We learn much better when we actually do something rather than simply listen to someone talk about it. Ask your reception class to make letter shapes with their bodies, for example, or help your science group to understand radiation by throwing a football across the room.

* Turn your thinking upside down: A great way to refresh your thinking is to turn an idea on its head. For instance, instead of you asking the questions and the children giving the answers, get the class to devise their own set of questions that they would like to discuss.

* Use the "you be teacher" approach: One of the best ways to learn something is to teach it to someone else. You might ask an individual to teach a small section of work to the class; you could split the pupils up into teams and get them teaching their peers. Not only is this an effective learning approach, it also gives you a bit of a break.

* Consider all the senses: Our pupils typically spend much of their time listening and looking. Remember that your children have five senses - and make sure you incorporate them all at some point this term. Get the class tasting different foods to add colour to a piece of imaginative writing; blindfold some volunteers and ask them to touch, smell and talk about a range of materials.

* Be brave: Often we avoid certain activities because we are fearful about potential pupil reactions. My experience has been that the most difficult children respond best to being given the teacher's trust. Sometimes your more adventurous lessons might go wrong, but it's better to have tried and failed than not to have tried at all.

* Take concentration spans into account: Bear in mind that the typical concentration span is a child's age plus two. So your class of five-year-olds should not be asked to focus on one task for more than seven minutes. This applies particularly to parts of the lesson where they must listen to you talking.

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