What’s the solution to disruptive, easily-distracted students while not taking anything away from productive, doing-what-they’re-supposed-to students?
For me, and for my English 10 classes, the solution was a Task List/Work Day.
First thing’s first. My students lately have been all over the place. I went from a dead silent classroom to an off-the-wall classroom, more or less. Sure, I was still in control, and things weren’t really that bad (I’m just hard on myself). But what I really wanted were engaged, yet still productive students. As I tried to rein their rambunctious selves into a group discussion, I realized this was near impossible. So for the following day, I set up a Work Day.
What is a Work Day? A Work Day in my classroom meant the students would take the entire 45 minute period and spend it on independent tasks. I had assigned a paper the class previously, so one of their objectives for the day was to work on that paper. There were also a few tasks related to homework (vocab words), reading (catching up students that were behind or didn’t do their reading), and a Tension of Opposites Worksheet (a worksheet I created to asses my students’ understanding of some of the themes in Tuesdays with Morrie).
I knew two things going into the Work Day.
- Not every student was in the same place
- I needed to spend individual time with each student
The Work Day was perfect for those two things, because first of all, my students were given a Task List. [See picture below]. I made this Task List as a means of organizing the objectives for that class period but to also be clear of my expectations and keep students productive, at their own pace, for the entire period.
This is the Task List I made for my students. It outlined everything they needed to do from start to finish. It also allowed for students to move at their own pace and get ahead on assignments. I had one worksheet assigned as in-class work: Tension of Opposites. I was collecting this at the end of the period–this way I could ensure that something productive was actually being accomplished. At the same time, though, it allowed for students that take a little longer on activities to have the entire class period to work.
The Task List was also productive because with every student working individually, I was able to meet with/talk to every single student. I walked around and checked in with everyone. I also pulled students aside to talk about grades, missing assignments, or even behavioral issues I’d seen in the past few days. From a teaching standpoint, the Work Day/Task List was extremely productive. It brought my class back in focus and helped students work on things they needed to, while having me available for questions and to bounce ideas off. This Work Day took a rambunctious class and got them back on track! I definitely think it’s a great idea!