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Have you ever had trouble keeping your students focused while transitioning from one subject to another? I know I have! Here are a few ideas that might work in your classroom to make this process a little easier:
1. Try soothing music
When you are ready to change subjects, just press play on your favorite soothing song. Use the same song every time you are ready to transition so that your students know what to expect. Soon enough, they will automatically begin cleaning up their workspaces and getting ready for the next lesson without you directing them to do so! I have seen this technique work with children as young as 3 years old!
2. Call a meeting to a carpeted area
Do you have an area in your classroom where your whole class can meet at once (and not be in their desks)? This brings the class together and centers their attention on what is in front of them, instead of what’s in their desks! After each subject, ask your students to join you on the carpet. Once your students are there, begin a mini lesson, do a review of the day before, or let your students know what they are about to learn. Before dismissing them back to their desks to work, let them know what you expect of them. Tell them what materials they will need and how they will need to be behaving for the next part of the day to continue. This also allows for the students to move around and stretch their legs!
If your students are a little more independent, teach them time management skills. Between each subject, give your students several minutes to prepare for the next part of the day. If you have an interactive white board, pull up a timer on the screen so that all of your students can see it clearly. If you do not have an interactive white board, place a timer at the front of the classroom, where students can view it independently. Tell your students that there will be consequences for not being prepared in time for the next part of the day. This will also give your students freedom to socialize momentarily with their peers to get that burning question out that they having been dying to ask since the bell rang!
4. Mind Exercises
If you would like your students to get off topic in an educational way, post a tricky question or a mind-stimulating puzzle on your interactive white board (or old-fashioned white board :). You can find these types of puzzles online, and often daily trivia questions can be sent to your e-mail. Allow students to make guesses and reward the winners with something small, like a piece of candy.
Adding smooth transitions into your daily routine will help you to feel more organized. It will also help your students to stay focused on the school day…ensuring that you’re all happy when it’s time to make the final transition HOME!
Rachel Stepp is a graduate student at The University of Georgia and a regular contributor to A Learning Experience (lucky us!!).