Saturday, November 22, 2014

5 Fixes for the First 5 Minutes of Instruction

You don't have a second opportunity to make a good first impression. If you get a bad feeling after meeting someone, it's going to take a lot for that person to change your general feelings about them. In other words you better spend time making the best impression the first time, or you'll have to spend lots of time thereafter convincing them that you've got it going on.

The same thing goes for any lesson.  If the kids don't develop a good impression in the first 5 minutes of the lesson, you're going to experience a lot of problems convincing them to stay with you. Great lessons can die in the first five minutes. It's not because they weren't planned well. It's because they didn't make a good impression on the student in the first few minutes. Have you ever had a lesson that included technology, and the technology wouldn't work?  Minute by minute the student engagement morphed into passive disengagement and eventually into disruptive bedlam, and as a result it took three times the time to reengage the students as it did to lose them in the first place.


But it doesn't have to be this way.  Look at the first 5 minutes as the foundation for learning.  A house built on a sandy foundation won't last long, but a house built upon a rock will last forever. Having homework turned in and materials ready for instruction is not enough to motivate kids for learning in the first five minutes. So how do great teachers create a great foundation for learning?

5 Fixes for the First 5

Here are 5 strategies to engage kids in learning and make an awesome 5 minute impression.

  1. Pose a problem on the board that is tied to your direct instruction.
  2. Padlet - Students can use their cell phones or tablets to respond to a thought-provoking questions.
  3. QR codes - Post a QR code that connects them to your lesson.
  4. Today's Meet - This is a great way to get kids to post their questions or comments about last night's homework while you tend getting class started.
  5. Google me this - Pose a term or concept for students to research through a Google search. 

The first five minutes of instruction is all about igniting minds. It's about connecting what students know to what you want them to know. If students aren't connected to your content, it is kind of difficult for you to create that interest through a lecture or presentation.   The pathway to rigor starts with cultivating a desire to want to know more. If the first five minutes of instruction do not inspire a student to want to know more, the remainder of the class will not be filled with rigor, but with rigor mortis. 

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