Ten Minutes Can Make or Break Instructional Delivery

The first ten minutes of class are vital to the success of the lesson. Students enter the room and prepare to start class while the teacher is doing a variety of “housekeeping” tasks designed to keep the documentation, behavior, and academics aligned toward success. So when you are planning for your own class, you really have to think about the first ten minutes.
For the semester, the students have grown accustomed to a very set structure: a Bell Ringer Focus, Lesson Overview, Recap, and then the actual lesson of the day. Today, I shuffled the structure.
When students enter, they know a few things:
1. The door is the point of no return.
2. When you enter, be seated and begin working.
3. Bell ringer work is intended to anchor your butt to the seat.
4. Attendance must be entered within the first fifteen minutes of class.
The change was actually rather simple, and it was a gentle introduction to what happens next. We start each day with a specific task, and previously it had been the Caught ‘Ya warm-up. (This GUM task, designed by Jane Bell Kiester, is similar to DOL except that is works by using paragraphs rather than sentences. Students do not know what to look for but must also master MLA formatting. BRILLIANT!) Now that the students have the structure mastered, I raised the bar by changing the bell ringer to be a grammar worksheet. Now, this is not designed to be the traditional boring thing I did when I was in school. Basically, I have a lovely worksheet from Prentice Hall which is divided into three parts. Students read the instruction (1) and complete section A (2) while I rotate. I’m looking at papers and trying to help students master the information with one-on-one teaching as needed. We go over these answers and either complete section B (3) or not based on class needs. After that mini lesson, we transition into the Caught ‘Ya where students are required to demonstrate further mastery of the grammar skill from the mini lesson. So what’s the point?
While the students are working on the Caught ‘Ya, I use this time to take attendance, hand out anything needing to be handed out, and talk to students individually. Students come in focused and stay focused. It sends an amazing message to the students.

As we close the learning cycle, those final ten minutes are a vital pulse check to help the teacher prepare for a successful day the next day. Students have learned some skill which will be built on tomorrow, so it is imperative the teacher knows where the students are in planning for the next steps of instruction. In the final few minutes, I use SCARE to help me end the lesson with focus.
S – Summarize. Teacher should summarize the learning. This might include asking students questions to require a personal reflection on the learn that occurred.
C – Connections. Either the teacher or the students should connect the day’s learning to some grand idea. Additionally, the teacher can use this time to connect the day’s learning to future learning.
A/R – Assess/Reflection. This would be an actual closure task such as an exit ticket. Usually, we use the Interactive Notebook for this, but some days we are not taking notes and we use an exit ticket of some sort. Ask students not only to show you they can master the objective but to reflect on how they feel about their own ability to have mastered the content. Place some accountability on them.
E – Evaluate. The teacher should look back over the student evidence as to whether or not the objective was mastered. By evaluating the student tasks, the teacher can adequately plan for instructional delivery tomorrow.

This week, I want to focus on making sure the students have mastered the structures of the opening ten minutes and work to refine my closure as we are working on writing the plot analysis essay from Begging for Change. Follow along and work on your openings and closures as well.

I welcome your feedback.

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