Resources for Educators

Teaching Tip

From the Teacher’s Aide Newsletter

1998 Summer

Themes for a Classroom

  • Themes can make a class (or even a series of classes) much more enjoyable and accelerate learning. On occasion a fun theme related to a holiday or season is fine. In general, though, it’s best to relate the theme to the class content so that students can clearly see the purpose behind it.
  • Metacognition: The following process to help students learn better is adapted from the work of Robert Marzano, one of the developers of metacognitive models.
    1. Ask students to focus their attitudes toward the tasks they’re about to undertake.
    2. Have students commit themselves to the lesson with a positive attitude.
    3. Students set short-term and long-term goals related to the learning and application of the lesson.
    4. Students apply the materials and monitor their progress on their goals.
  • To reduce distractions, interruptions or cynical comments, give each student two pennies at the start of the class. Tell them that they can voice their objections or grouse but it costs them one penny per comment. When they no longer have any pennies, they can’t put in any more of their “two cents” worth of comments.
  • Play a version of Bingo to acquaint new students. Design a card that includes items that describe others in the group (e.g., local chapter officer; has grandchildren; wearing a red dress; loves football; hates football; etc.). The respective person signs his/her name on the proper slot. Prizes are given to those who get a card completely filled in.Another creative option incorporates funny actions that they must perform before signing the sheet, such as do “The Bump” or whistle “Old McDonald.”
  • To improve learning, suggest that students answer these questions after reading assignments:
    What was the essence of the material?
    What parts of it were most important?
    What areas do I need to learn more about?
    What opinions did it contain?
    What’s my opinion of this material?
    What aspects of it are unique?
    What’s one area I’d like to pursue in greater depth?