Article | Let’s Surprise Students

SurpriseIt’s a usual Tuesday morning. You wake up, get dressed for work and eat your breakfast. You take the bus and head to work. As you walk into the office, you go over things you have planned to complete for the day. You settle at your desk and check your emails. The first email informs you that the management has planned a surprise movie viewing for everyone after lunch. You read the email again to check if you’ve misread anything; you haven’t. You grin to yourself, thinking this is going to be a fun Tuesday – don’t we love surprises?

The MI Monday article this week featured a school teacher, Reena, who extended her daily class schedule by an hour, so that she could introduce extra curricular activity in class. Reena would plan an activity each day, and not tell her students about it until the end of the day; this surprise factor that she introduced, got her students excited and motivated about coming to class everyday, and helped improve the attendance.

Breaking off from the routine is welcomed by all – adults going through mundane daily routine at home or work or students going through their daily classroom grind.

But, it is not easy to deviate from the routine. Reena had to present a strong case to the school management and parents in order for them to accept the additional hours she was recommending. Is it only possible to break class routine by adding additional time to daily class? Can we not break the routine during regular school time?

Think about it, a school week is typically five days, and subjects are spread out evenly across these days.  If each subject teacher plans one class differently, then there would be a surprise class planned for students each day.

  • For example, the math class on Monday could turn into a treasure hunt ground – students would need to solve math puzzles to solve clues and unlock a treasure.
  • On Tuesday, students could collect leaves of different types, analyze them, list their characteristics  and properties and then use them to make a leaf art.
  • On Wednesday, students could be told that they would be visiting the north pole. They would have to research the climatic conditions of the region and pack bags and resources to survive in the cold for five days.
  • On Thursday, students could watch a game of cricket or football and discuss the physics of the game.
  • And, on Friday, students could survey the school to analyze the power consumption and discuss ways to reduce the same.

Teachers of each grade can plan one activity per week. They can discuss the same with the other teachers of the same grade and create a “Surprise Class” chart for the month. The chart would not be shown to the children, thus, each day, they would wait with excitement wondering which class will be the “surprise class.”

Do you think it’s possible to include a surprise element each week in class?

Would such a strategy motivate students?

What other strategies or techniques can teachers use to break-off from the everyday routine?

Please share your thoughts in the comment box that appears at the end of this article.

Kanchan Shine

Kanchan Shine

Passionate about everything related to education. I believe that the best kind of learning happens through play, experiments and fun! I love watching how children learn and love to implement play-based, hands-on teaching approaches. I get my thrill by planning activities for my children (6 yo girl & 3 yo boy) and watching them learn while having fun!

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3 Responses

  1. sheetals12 says:

    Japanese teachers highly value the last five minutes of class as a time for summarizing, sharing, and reflecting. A nice way to change the pace of your class is to have students write regular reflections on the work they have done. Encourage and focus their writing with a prompt, such as “The Muddiest Point and the Clearest Point: What was most confusing about the work you did today, and what new thing was the most clear?” Use this approach to guide future lessons and activities. Consider writing responses to student journal entries in order to carry on a conversation with students about their work. A nice approach for consideration in student engagement and motivation.

    • Thanks for the inputs Sheetal!

      The muddiest and clearest point strategies are definitely a good way to end the class. If teachers don’t have time to discuss the muddiest and clearest points at the end of a class, they can ask students to write their notes on an Exit slip and submit it before leaving the class. Later, the teacher can go through the notes and prepare for the next class accordingly – if many students had one common muddiest point, then the teacher can choose to recap the concept in the next class, and then teach a new topic.

  2. sheetals12 says:

    Nice article Kanchan Shine and even I believe adding surprise elements helps in student motivation and engagement.

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