The first five minutes of class will set the tone for how successful your students will be. In that small amount of time, students will often make up their mind whether or not they are going to buy what you’re selling. We as teachers have very similar attention-grabbing tactics to that of a salesperson. Their job is to hook you the moment you lock eyes with them and then reel you in quickly to close the deal. Before you realize it, they have given you a great sales pitch and probably sold you something you’ll probably later regret buying.
As a K-6 physical education teacher, I have worked on my sales pitch over the years. I have sold students on the fact that they are going to have fun, choose their own path of learning, and be physically active…all in the first five minutes of my class. I call this my instant activity, a daily routine I use to hook my students’ attention and reel them in to stay actively engaged for the rest of my class.
In these first five minutes, I provide individualized learning opportunities that allow my students to work at their own pace where they are free to try various fitness-based skills, work cooperatively with one another, socialize with their peers, and assess their own performance. The beauty of this instant activity is that it can eventually transition from a teacher-led learning opportunity to a student-led learning opportunity (your evaluator will love that).
The instant activity I provide to my students (pictured below) is new every week. This prevents boredom and limits the likelihood that classroom management will be an issue. Students have the choice to try skills provided in the new instant activity (pictured left) or choose their own path of learning and make a student choice (pictured right). Students are not required to perform a set amount of repetitions with each skill, but instead, they are encouraged (and assessed) to try their best to perform each skill for 1 minute. A rubric for individual performance is provided at the bottom of each instant activity as a visual and motivator for students while they are actively engaged in my instant activity. As I circulate around my classroom monitoring progress and participating with students, I can use this rubric to provide general and specific feedback to individuals, small groups, or the entire class.
My instant activity is much different from one that you would see in a general classroom where students typically sit down at their desk to complete an objective. Students are moving. Students are social. My class looks and sounds chaotic the moment you walk in. But if you continue to observe, you will see that this is an organized chaos and my students ARE LEARNING!
I designed my instant activity to allow students to take personal responsibility for their own behavior and learning. Providing this opportunity to my students allows them to develop a positive self-concept in an environment where it’s okay to make mistakes along the way.
Since incorporating this style of instant activity into my classroom, I have been able to systematically plan, develop, and maintain a positive learning environment that focuses on maximizing learning and participation.
As you reflect on your successes and challenges this past year and begin to look ahead to next year, I encourage you to dedicate the first 5 minutes of your class selling your students with an instant activity they can’t resist. If they’re active while doing so…well that’s just the cherry on top.
If you do an instant activity in your classroom that engages your students, what has worked for you?