Archive 20: Articles and ideas published in the 20th century on the teaching of English that are still useful in the 21st century.
Question: What can you do during the last ten minutes of class?
Answer: Excerpts from the article.
(1) Make up a pen name based on your real name or some significant element in your life. Print it on a slip of paper and put all pen names in a box. Draw them out one at a time and guess whose they are. Students may enjoy using the pen name all year long in their writing.
(2) Draw a sign or symbol to represent your name or some significant aspect of your life and explain why you chose it.
(3) Write out your name, one letter at a time, from the top of the paper to the bottom. Give a word beginning with each letter that describes or tells something about you.
(4) Write out your name. See how many other words you can make from the letters contained in it.
(5) Write out your name. Make up a sentence in which the first word begins with the first letter of hyour name, the second word begins with the second letter, etc.
(6) Have each person tell something he has learned that day.
(7) Alphabetize the names of your classmates.
(8) Write a “Dear Abby” letter about a real or fictitious adolescent problem that you or a friend have. Do not sign your real name. Put all letters in a box. Have students draw one out, answer the question, and then read all answers aloud.
(9) Write out directions to some place in the community.
(10) Ask students to give directions for making some object or for completing some task. Read the directions aloud and let others decide what the directions are for.
(11) Tell a story from the front of the row to the back or around the room with each student adding a sentence. Each student must listen to all the others or his sentence will not make sense.
(12) Read lyrics from a song to the class and ask them to name the song.
(13) Play a popular record that tells a story and ask the class to identifythe hero, hroing, setting, conflict, theme, etc.
(14) If you use oral book reports, try this. Ask the class to bring in some object related to the story and to explain its significance.
(15) Play an instrumental recording and ask students to record any images the music suggests to them.
(16) Use one word as many ways as possible in a short paragraph. It might read something like this: “The under-rated undertaker was undernourished and underestimated.”
(17) Read half a story to the class. Let them write the ending.
(18) During October, let students write an epitaph for themselves in the form of a short poem. Display these on construction paper tombstones for Halloween.
(19) Use a newspaper for a grammar treasure hunt. Let the class work in pairs and ask them to find an example for each capitalization and punctuation rule, or ten examples of each part of speech or samples of simple, compound, complex sentences, verbs in all the tenses.
(20) Place a number of magazine pictures on the board. Ask students to arrange them so that they tell a story. Then they write the story.
Title: “Fill ‘Er Up or Four Score Language Arts Activities for the Last Ten Minutes of the Period.” Sue Ellen Holt. English Journal (September 1976), 52-57.