Oh, What You Can Do … in a Line! (Part 1)

Feb 07, 2014 | Posted by the IEW Blog Team

Seven Things You Can Do with Your Students to Make Their Time Standing in Line Productive

How will I get it all done? This is the eternal question for teachers. Think about it. If someone introduces a new idea, the first question isn’t, “Will it work?”—even though we do ask that. Normally, our first question is “How much time will it take?”

Since I had learned that knowledge, concepts, and skills were taught differently, I began to think about how I scheduled things to see if I was spending our time wisely in my classroom. First, facts are best taught through repetition, so I used games, songs, and chants to reinforce what they learned during the warm-up time of each subject. Concepts need focused time for discussion, so I reserved our class time for this. Learning skills take modeling and practice, so I again had to use my class time. No wonder I always felt guilty about how long they sat at their desks! Because of the way I had everything structured, they had to be in their seats to receive everything I needed and wanted to give.

The first change I made was to let the kids stand up while we played the games or sang songs. While that decision didn’t help the time issue, it did get them out of their chairs more, and I began to notice other times that they were standing. How could I use the times they were standing in line? My answer became a favorite among the parents and students at our school because the test scores improved, even though the students were spending less time at home cramming for the tests.

To prepare for studying in a line, you should get a set of index cards. They can be the spiral-bound ones, or you can punch a hole in an unbound set and keep them together with a loose-leaf ring. I liked the second choice because I could reorder the cards or add a card at any given place. On an index card for each fact or word write:

  1. a question from any test that week and three keys words to remember the answer
  2. any other facts you want them to remember from that week’s content in every subject
  3. vocabulary or spelling words
  4. foreign language vocabulary
  5. math facts and vocabulary
  6. catechism questions and answers if you are required to teach them
  7. any rule from any subject such as IEW’s topic/clincher rule

If you label each index card with the week and the subject, you will have a complete set after one year. On any given week only carry the set for that week, ten review cards from the previous week, and five from any time earlier in the year.

When the students are lining up and waiting for the slower ones, ask one student a question at a time, and get through as many questions as you can as quickly as you can. The key is to have one person answer while everyone else listens. Then have the whole class recite the answer together.

Remember that you can use this any time they are waiting—in the morning when they are waiting for everyone to arrive or in the afternoon when they are waiting for their parents, before or after lunch.

Try this and let me know how it goes! Next time I will write on how to infuse the Structure & Style method into this activity.

(Read Part 2 here.)

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