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Mini-Lessons to Upgrade Downtime

Using Instructional Time Wisely


Teenage students (14-16) at desk in classroom
Muntz/ The Image Bank/ Getty Images

How many times have you finished a lesson, looked at the clock, and found you had about ten minutes left in the period--not have enough time to start a new activity, yet too much time to feel comfortable letting students sit and talk?

Your discomfort with this downtime is certainly justified, for if you teach a one-hour class that meets five days a week, ten minutes of downtime a day add up to six weeks of instructional time lost each year. If this seems hard to believe, check out the table located at the bottom of this page.

With so much instructional time at stake, it behooves us to plan carefully for possible downtime at the end the period. To make the job easier, I have gathered a variety of activities and related internet links.

Although the activities may be completed in 2 to 15 minutes, some may require instruction the first time they are used. However, once students can manage the activities independently, you will be free to confer with individual students making otherwise wasted time even more productive.

Time Lost to Downtime

10 min. x 5 days =50 minutes/week
50 min./week =7 1/2 hours/9 week qtr.
7 1/2 hours/9 week qtr. =30 - 1 hour classes/year
30-1 hour classes/year =6 weeks of classes/year!
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