One-Minute Motivators and Classroom Innovations:
Quick Strategies for Effective Teaching and Learning*

HOUSSE Institute: Topics in Middle School Language Arts
Spring 2006, Thomas Nelson Community College

I spy:  Play "I Spy" with beginning letter sounds (for pre-emergent readers).  For instance, “I spy something that begins with the letter P…”

Fun Fridays:  Some Fridays are devoted to playing educational games.

Tell me one lie: A good icebreaker that works well is to have each student write three things about himself or herself. Two are true and one is false. The rest of the class guesses which are true and which is not. It is a good way to get to know something about everyone in the class, and it gets everyone involved in learning the names of their classmates.

Active Lesson Review: (ADHD students) Review a lesson from the day before at the start of class.  First student that answers a question is tossed a hacky sack.  He or she gets to ask the next question and the student that answers gets the hacky sack. This also tells the teacher what needs to be retaught. is a great way to start off a class by sharing some humor to set a good mood for learning. The puns can be used to demonstrate the flexibility of language. The jokes are also "kid friendly."

Extra credit points in English: (ADHD students)  Every detail said over the intercom during announcements is recorded by the students (written down) and turned in for extra credit points.  It teaches them to listen and focus, and to recall details.

Extra credit points in English: A great assignment for extra credit in English is to get a letter to the editor published, or a movie or restaurant "readers review" published in the on-line version of a newspaper. This is a perfect extra credit assignment because it is written for a specific audience, it is evaluated as worthy of publication by the editorial board, and it requires no extra work of the teacher.

Assign the error:  In English class assign the students to write a sentence fragment, or a run-on, or a sentence with a subject/verb agreement error.  This forces them to think about not only what the correct construction is, but also what problems or circumstances may lead to that error.

Morning math: a math puzzler is on the board at the start of class for extra credit points, and they have until the announcements start to work it and turn it in.  Helps to get the class calmed down ad focused on starting class.

Two-a-day:  At the start of class I have a couple sentences on the board, and they have to rewrite them and correct them.  Helps to get the students calmed down and focused on starting class.

*Concepts borrowed from the Virginia Master Teacher Seminar,
Dr. Terry Whisnant, Executive Director

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