Thursday’s Tip: The Last 5 Minutes

Lefty Clock

Something that is unique to teaching middle and high school is the finite number of minutes one has with students. Secondary teachers usually have somewhere in the ballpark of 50 minutes to cover their content. Sometimes, a lesson is so carefully planned and efficiently carried-out that there is extra time at the end of the period. So, for 5-10 minutes of every class period, the students are left to their own devices.

Why not facilitate more learning during those last five minutes of class?

It seems that letting the end of a class period slip by without any learning is a waste of that valuable time. We always here that teachers don’t have time to cover all that they want to cover, but 5-10 minutes of every class period is lost when we don’t use it. So, I’ve come up with a short list of ways one can use the last 5-10 minutes of a class that promotes learning instead of providing down time.

  • Do a line-up: Have students line-up based on their opinion on a certain topic. For example, I had some seventh-graders line-up based on which graph (line vs. bar) would best suit certain kinds of data. We then discussed their reasons for picking one or the other and even why they lined-up somewhere in between.
  • Exit Ticket: An exit ticket is a reflection piece students must complete and turn in to exit the class. It is usually prompted by the day’s objective or essential question as a way to get them to reflect on what they have learned. It is also a nice way to gather some nice formative assessment data.
  • Two Stars and a Wish: The two stars are things students liked or thought were important. The wish is a question they still had or something that didn’t sit well with them. These are best collected on paper, much like the exit ticket.
  • For more ideas, check the presentation below:

What are some ways in which you utilize the last 5-10 minutes of class? Feel free to click on the presentation and add your own.

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.