You’ve been having an amazing lesson. The kids are engaged. You’ve met all of your lesson aims and checked that the students understand and can use the target language. Heck, the students are even laughing at your cheesy jokes. You feel like a rockstar as you finish your last activity. Then, you look at the clock in horror as you realize that the class isn’t over! You’ve still got ten minutes to go and absolutely nothing planned.
You start to sweat, and your confidence vanishes. The kids, picking up on your weakness start giggling and misbehaving. What are you going to do?!
Okay, okay, I may be overdoing it a bit, but as anyone who has been in this situation before knows, this is what it feels like. This week’s post is going to take a look at ways from avoiding this scenario, how to extend activities if you have extra time and other ways that you can conclude a lesson if you suddenly find yourself with extra time.
If you just want three “if time” activities to keep in the back burner for emergencies, you can gain access to the resource by clicking on the button below.
How to Avoid this Scenario
The truth of the matter is that timing activities during a lesson can be tricky. More than likely your problem is running out of time, not activities; however, this can be just as problematic. Spending too much time on practice games and activities, and not having enough time to get to the meat of the lesson, is by no means a good thing.
Proper planning and time management is an essential skill for a teacher. To help yourself avoid running out of time or having too much time, have milestones throughout the lesson and check that you are on schedule. If, after half of the class, you are nowhere near where you are meant to be, you may need to cut a few of the less essential activities. If you have too much time, consider stretching out valuable activities or extending them. More on this in the next section.
Extra time should be viewed as a gift and not a problem. If you notice that you have five to ten minutes to spare, one solution is to take the last activity one step further. For young learners, this may simply be one of two things:
- Add a few new rules to a game previously played that lesson to make it more challening and/or fun.
- Change the grammatical structure slightly or open up the vocabulary used for the activity so that it’s not just what was taught that day.
For teens, adults or even high level young learners, another option if you suddenly have a surplus of class time is to have a discussion about the topic or what was learnt that day. If the class is too large for effective discussions, snowball the conversation.
What I mean by snowball is to start with either small groups or pairs and have the discussion groups gradually get bigger. Snowball discussion activities end with full class feedback where the teacher randomly calls on a few students to report what they’ve discussed with other groups.
Cool Down Activities and Wrap-ups
Just as warmers are a great way to start a class, cool down activities are a great way to end the class. Rather than sending the students back to their parents sweaty and hyper from the final climactic speaking game, send them out still excited about what they learned, but less like they are about to explode. Cool down activities are simple games that don’t require too much explanation and are usually familiar to the students.
If you’d like access to three cool down games that I use in my YL classroom, you can gain access to the resource by clicking on the button below.
Cooldown activities don’t need to be games though. Another great way to end a class is with a song. If you only have a few minutes, simply choose a song that they know. If you have longer, you could spend a little more time and teach a new song along with actions.
Exit drills are also useful for managing end of class timing. For my YL classes, a routine that we have is that the winning team of the day gets to line up first with the rest of the students behind them. I ask each of the students a quick question as they leave to reinforce the lesson and check individual students grasp of the day’s lesson. Now, if I am running late, I might simply tell the students goodbye one by one. On the other hand, if I still have a few minutes, I might have the students ask each other a question as they leave. It’s good practice and it takes a bit more time.
For adults, ending the class with a simple and fun activity is also a good way to ensure that students leave with their confidence intact. Rather than finishing with a difficult activity that only a portion of the class did well, end with something that everyone can achieve. Another option, as mentioned earlier, is to end the class with a simple discussion.
Exit routines also work for teens and adults. One of my favorites is a final pronunciation challenge. I’ll jot down a sentence with a few phonemes that they made mistakes on during the class. Then, we’ll practice the sentence as a class. However, before the student is allowed to leave, they must say the sentence correctly.
In short, you should always plan an extra activity for the end of class. Though you may never use this activity, having that little bit extra planned will help to put you at ease. Whatever it is that you plan beforehand in the teachers’ room is bound to be better than something you make up on the spot.
Also, regardless, it’s always a good idea to have a few spare games in your head that you can pull out in any situation. The longer you teach the easier this is.