Catherine DiBenedetto

A Simple Change Yields Success

Blog Post created by Catherine DiBenedetto on Feb 28, 2011

A typical day in my classroom involves as much "fun" learning as possible, but even the best teachers must admit, it can be difficult to keep students engaged everyday, bell to bell. Ag teachers generally teach 3, 4, 5 or more preps and lesson planning is very time consuming. My lessons include a variety of hands-on activities that differentiate instruction to match learning styles and help students see the connections to the real world. I work very hard to plan lessons that will actively engage students, keep them on task and interested in the material. However, I still find that some students always seem to slack off, forget to finish assignments, turn them in incomplete or never have pictures for their SAE projects! Hmmmmmmmmm. What is an Ag teacher to do? Well, I decided to try a rather simple change that has yielded success. I brainstormed an idea to help keep my students working and completing assignments. What do I call it?  Fun Fridays!   What is it? It is, as I mentioned a very simple change. I plan to have a fun activity on Friday that relates to the current teaching unit in each class.Usually something that is very hands-on and gives me an opportunity to assess performance and understanding of the previous material. For example: Floriculture I - Unit: Principles of Floral Design. This past Friday students designed a triangle arrangement using the knowledge they gained from the previous unit. Example #2- Horticulture I- Components of Soil/Media. Students developed an experiment using various soil components to determine the best combination for seed germination. So you are thinking big deal, these are activities that we would normally complete within the unit anyway. For some reason, kids just like the idea that it is "Fun Friday" and they get the opportunity to do something fun and different at the end of the week that completely applies to the lesson. So what's the hitch? In order for "Fun Fridays" to occur, the majority of all of the work, from all of the students in the class must be completed and turned in by the end of class on every Thursday. What are the results? Well.... I have noticed a decrease in late work and incomplete assignments. Students are working together to help each other stay on task and we are having a great deal of FUN on Fridays! It may be just a simple play on words, but it is keeping my students on task and working to obtain a reward ( an educational reward no less! ) on Friday. Simple, yet successful!