With the holiday season approaching, it’s good to add some fun into teaching to keep your students engaged and motivated. We’ve created 12 simple classroom activities and tips that you can carry out with your primary class to encourage them to be good.
8 first lesson problems for young learners
The first class with a new group of young learners can be a nerve-wracking experience for teachers old and new. Many of us spend the night before thinking about how to make a positive start to the year, with a mixture of nerves, excitement, and a desire to get started. However, sometimes things don’t always go as expected, and it is important to set a few ground rules in those early lessons to ensure a positive classroom experience for all, throughout the academic year.
Let’s look at a few common problems that can come up, and how best to deal with them at the start of the school year.
1. Students are not ready to start the class
How the first few minutes of the class are spent can greatly influence how the lesson goes. Students can be slow to get out their equipment and this can cause a lot of time wasting. To discourage this, start lessons with a timed challenge.
- Tell students what you want them to do when they come into class, e.g. sit down, take out their books and pencil cases, sit quietly ready for the lesson to start.
- Time how long it takes for everyone to do this and make a note. Each day do the same.
- Challenge students to do this faster every day. You could provide a goal and offer a prize at the end of the trimester if they reach it, e.g. be ready in less than a minute every day.
2. Students speak their first language (L1) in class
One of primary teachers' most common classroom management issues is getting them to speak English. However, young learners may need to speak their mother tongue occasionally, and a complete ban on L1 is often not the best solution. But how can we encourage students to use English wherever possible?
Tell students they have to ask permission to speak in L1, if they really need to.
- 3 word rule — tell students that they can use a maximum of three words in L1 if they don’t know them in English.
- Write ENGLISH on the board in large letters. Each time someone speaks in L1, erase a letter. Tell students each letter represents time (e.g. 1 minute) to play a game or do another fun activity at the end of the lesson. If the whole word remains they can choose a game.
3. Students don’t get on with each other
It is only natural that students will want to sit with their friends, but it is important that students learn to work with different people. Most students will react reasonably if asked to work with someone new, but occasionally conflicts can arise. To help avoid uncomfortable situations, do team building activities, such as those below, at the beginning of the school year, and do them again whenever you feel that they would be beneficial:
- Give students an icebreaker activity such as 'find a friend bingo' to help students find out more about each other.
- Help students learn more about each other by finding out what they have in common.
- Balloon race. Have two or more teams with an equal number of students stand in lines. Give each team a balloon to pass to the next student without using their hands. The first team to pass the balloon to the end of the line wins.
- Team letter/word building. Call out a letter of the alphabet and have pairs of students form it with their bodies, lying on the floor. When students can do this easily, call out short words, e.g. cat, and have the pairs join up (e.g. three pairs = group of six) and form the letters to make the word.
4. Students don’t know what to do
When the instructions are given in English, there will inevitably be a few students who don’t understand what they have to do. It is essential to give clear, concise instructions and to model the activity before you ask students to start. To check students know what to do and clarify any problems:
- Have one or more students demonstrate using an example.
- Have one student explain the task in L1.
- Monitor the task closely in the first few minutes and check individual students are on the right track.
5. A student refuses to participate/do the task
This is a frequent problem that can have many different causes. In the first few lessons, this may simply be shyness, but it is important to identify the cause early to devise an effective strategy. A few other causes might include:
- Lack of language required to respond or do the task. Provide differentiation tasks or scaffolding to help students with a lower level complete the task or have them respond in a non-oral way.
- Low self-confidence in their ability to speak English. Again, differentiation and scaffolding can help here. Have students work in small groups or pairs first, before being asked to speak in front of the whole class.
- Lack of interest or engagement in the topic. If students aren’t interested, they won’t have anything to say. Adapt the topic or task, or just move on.
- External issues e.g. a bad day, a fight with a friend, physical problems (tiredness/hunger/thirst). Talk to the student privately to find out if they are experiencing any problems. Allow them to 'pass' on a task if necessary, and give them something less challenging to do.
It is important not to force students to do something they don’t want to do, as this will cause a negative atmosphere and can affect the whole class. Ultimately, if a student skips one or two tasks, it won’t affect their achievement in the long run.
6. Students ask for repeated restroom/water breaks
It only takes one student to ask to go to the restroom before the whole class suddenly needs to go! This can cause disruption and stops the flow of the lesson. To avoid this, make sure you have rules in place concerning restroom breaks:
- Make sure students know to go to the restroom before the lesson.
- Have students bring in their own water bottles. You can provide a space for them to keep their bottles (label them with student names) in the classroom and have students fill them daily at the drinking fountain or faucet.
- Find out if anyone has any special requirements that may require going to the restroom.
- Provide 'brain breaks' at strategic points in the lesson when you see students becoming restless.
7. Students don’t have the required materials
- Provide parents with a list of materials students will need on the first day.
- If special materials are required in a lesson, give students a note to take home or post a message on the school platform several days before.
- Don’t blame the student - whether they have a good reason or not for turning up to class empty-handed, making a child feel guilty will not help.
- Write a note for parents explaining why bringing materials to class is important.
8. Students are not listening/talking
Getting their attention can be challenging if you have a boisterous class. Set up a signal you will use when you want them to pay attention to you. When they hear or see the signal, students should stop what they are doing and look at you. Some common signals are:
- Raising your hand - When students see you raise your hand, they should raise their hands and stop talking. Wait until everyone is sitting in silence with their hands raised. This works well with older children and teenagers.
- Call and response attention-getters - These are short phrases that prompt students to respond in a certain way, for example: Teacher: "1 2 3, eyes on me!" Students: "1 2 3, eyes on you!". Introduce a new attention-getter every few weeks to keep it fun. You can even have your students think up their own phrases to use.
- Countdowns - Tell students what you want them to do and count backwards from ten to zero, e.g. "When I get to zero, I need you all to be quiet and look at me. 10, 9, 8 …"
- Keep your voice low and speak calmly - This will encourage students to stop talking and bring down excitement levels.
- A short song or clapping rhythm - With younger children, it is effective to use music or songs for transitions between lesson stages so they know what to do at each stage. For primary-aged children, clap out a rhythm and have them repeat it. Start with a simple rhythm, then gradually make it longer, faster, or more complex.
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In the fast-paced world of business, there is one undeniable fact that holds true: employees are the key to success. Their commitment and expertise propel organizations towards their objectives, which is why investing in a learning culture is essential. The advantages are numerous and include improved staff retention, increased productivity and the goal of higher employee engagement.
You may have heard the term learning management system (LMS) at work or perhaps during your time in education. For many, this throws out images of clunky, outdated systems that clumsily distribute course materials and are tough to use. But that is no longer the case. Modern LMS's are far more user-friendly, and it's time to relearn what you thought you knew about these tools.
In this ultimate guide, we will look at everything you need to know about learning management systems and why they are so beneficial.
What is a learning management system?
The idea is that these LMS platforms offer one central place for users to manage and access courses and learning materials. Depending on the user, this could be anything from self-paced e-courses to classroom training.
This can help facilitate a range of training, studying and skills development, as well as assessments, exams and certification management.
Who uses LMS's and why?
There are many great uses for learning management systems but these are used primarily by businesses and educational establishments. Here are some of the most common use cases for these platforms:
HR and management - The HR and management team might implement these across the business to help with learning and development and make sure that organizational goals are being hit
Employee onboarding - Those starting a new job may be given training via an LMS; this can make the onboarding process much quicker and simpler
Compliance training - Lots of roles require compliance training, for example health and safety training, and this is a great way for businesses to stay up to date and ensure everyone complies with regulations
Customer support - Some businesses use learning management systems to onboard customers or clients. This might include sharing user manuals and product guides. Plus, sales professionals might also use them to train new partners or clients in using their services or platforms.
Classroom learning - Lecturers and teachers can create and share course materials and align content and tests from one place. These can also be used to put a twist on traditional classroom learning.
Blended learning - Schools, colleges and universities may use these for online lessons and blended learning, particularly for remote students
Volunteer training - Charities and non-profits may also use an LMS to educate volunteers and keep them motivated about the cause
Of course, these platforms can and will be used in other ways, but these are some of the most common and beneficial uses for LMS's.
Who has access to LMS's?
In most cases, learning management systems will have two primary user groups: administrators and learners.
Administrators are the people who create, manage and deliver e-learning. They may use these platforms to upload their own learning materials, or they may select courses and materials from an existing list given by the provider.
On the other hand, learners are the professionals or students who will use these platforms to train, study and gain new skills. Many modern LMS's allow multiple learners to train or access materials at the same time.
However, there is a third and final group that we have yet to mention: the parents of students using LMS's, particularly outside of school hours. In some cases, parents may have access to these systems to support students, track their progress or look at feedback from the teacher.
Key features in modern LMS's
There are a variety of learning management systems out there and some are more advanced than others. That being said, many modern platforms will share similar features to ensure they stay competitive. Some of these key features may include:
Authoring tools that allow administrators to upload or build their own courses
Access to subject matter experts who can contribute to learning and development activities
Automated workflows that allow for the creation of personalized learning journeys
A resources library that holds all relevant learning materials, such as guides, video clips and courses
Quizzes and surveys for a more fun and engaging way to assess learners
Compliance features, such as automatic reminders that notify learners when it is time to retrain
Certificates and diplomas that give learners recognition as they study and meet their targets
Insights and analysis for individual progress and results, allowing administrators to identify gaps or areas where support is needed
Compatibility with mobile devices for studying on the go
Integrations with other internal systems and software
This is by no means a complete list and different platforms will have different functionality. However, these are some of the most common and beneficial features of many modern LMSs.
The benefits of using learning management systems
Saving time and money
First and foremost, an LMS can be an excellent way for businesses to save time and money on training.
Of course there is an initial investment in the platform, but training can be expensive and time-consuming, particularly if it must take place in a location outside of the workplace. Therefore, this can be the more cost-effective solution. Not to mention, the materials are quick to access and can save time and effort.
Ensuring compliance training is completed
These platforms are an excellent way to ensure that all mandatory training is completed on time and to the highest standard. For example, industry-specific training such as fire safety or cybersecurity training.
Provide accurate data
Administrators can access data and insights into their employee's learning. This can be a great way to see where more support is needed and to identify any skills gaps that need to be filled. Similarly, teachers can get to grips with how well their students are doing and if they need extra help in any subjects or areas.
Improves the learning experience
Whether in school or the workplace, LMS's can be a great way to improve the learning process. It allows users to study and access learning materials from one accessible location. Plus, through a multimedia approach, they can use guides, videos and more to help them learn. This can ensure they engage with the materials and stay motivated.
Finally, an LMS can make communication between students, teachers, employees and employers far simpler. For example, automated reminders keep everyone in the loop and ensure all training is completed on time. But more than that, there is one central place to communicate, review feedback and access the same materials.