At the beginning of class, it takes my students a long time to settle down. We are wasting time as I try to get their attention. Any suggestions? –T., Maryland
To take advantage of the class time we have, it helps to have an established routine so students know what to do when they come into the classroom.
One method I found effective was posting an agenda. When the students entered the lab, they saw what the learning goals were, what activities they were going to work on in class, what needed to be turned in, and what materials they needed (pencil, science notebook, paper, and so on). As they assembled these materials and put their other things away, they still had a little time to socialize, which is important to middle schoolers. When we started the lesson or lab investigation, they had their materials in order.
Another suggestion is to have a warm-up or bellringer activity. Students should get started right away, even before the bell actually rings. The students are focused while you take attendance, distribute materials, or return assignments. Some examples include
- Answer a question about yesterday’s work or another related topic
- Respond to a statement or visual to uncover misconceptions or activate prior knowledge
- Complete a vocabulary entry with a graphic organizer
- Do a “quick write” with several sentences on a theme or topic
- Do a “quick draw” on a theme or topic
You can tell the students to quiet down over and over every day. Or you can help students take responsibility for using time purposefully through guidance and modeling (and persistence).