Teachers' Trade Secrets

A whole gamut of bright ideas from the chalkface! Whether you need to expand their vocabulary, build a classroom identity, or get the quiet quickly, these soundbite tips will inspire.

There are 25 videos in this series.

1 min Musical Shakespeare
Students in groups are given different instruments to represent different emotions. Drums, for example, can portray anger. As you read a monologue, the students play instruments that are most appropriate to the mood.
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1 min School Food Rap
The idea is to create eight rhymes about disgusting food, that the students chant in four different groups and at the end they make a sound as if they were being sick!
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1 min Varying Questions
This activity helps you vary your question types, depending on the ability of your students. Use prompt cards on the wall, like "predict" or "state" to let your students know what kind of answer you would like from them.
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1 min Marbles
This activity is designed to improve the behaviour of a particularly difficult class. The class is divided into three equally matched groups and given a marble when their behaviour is good. When they reach twenty marbles the group receives a treat.
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1 min Puppets
This teacher has two specail puppets he uses to keep the students interested. One is a black, red and yellow snake, used mainly in German lessons, the other is a crow who helps to keep students involved during science classes.
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1 min Rhythm Bingo
Students write their own bingo cards and the teacher claps out rhythms to fill in the spaces as a musical dictation. This is a time-consuming and fun way to practice crotchets, quavers and minims.
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1 min Times Table
To help make your times tables more memorable, ask children to write a rhyming line for each multiplication, then set the the whole "rap" to music. A fun alternative to learning the tables through simple repetition.
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1 min Register
In many schools there are a very large number of languages spoken. For an interesting start to the day, ask a different child each day to say "good morning" in their own language.
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1 min Vocab
At the start of the day, ask a student to use a dictionary to find a challenging or unfamiliar word that they would like to learn. The word is added to a wall at the back of the room and children are encouraged to use it in their written or spoken work.
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1 min 5FM
At the beginning of each day a musical track is played, either selected by the teacher or previously brought in by a pupil. Some background is also provided in the form of a biography or a video clip of the track being performed.
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1 min Gold Ticket
Give children a playground focus for the week, this might be sharing a piece of new equipment or exhibiting a certain type of behaviour. Adults award pupils a golden ticket for adhering to the task, and they are entered into a prize draw.
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1 min Stripey
In a group activity, you can use a special item, like a toy, to help during the discussion. Only the child holding the toy is allowed to speak. As well as avoiding a free-for-all, this acts as an incentive for shy pupils to join in the discussion.
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1 min Bing Crosby
Set out clear rules, displayed on the wall, so all students are aware of what constitutes acceptable behaviour. Rather than critisizing examples of bad behaviour, ignore badly-behaving students and praise those showing signs of good behaviour.
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1 min Phone Home
Often parents are only phoned when there is a problem and behaviour is bad. But good behaviour should be praised and rewarded, too. When praising a student, ringing the parents and including them will encourage better behaviour in the future.
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1 min Class Mascot
As a class, talk about the characteristics you would like your class mascot to have. These will become the class rules. This helps form a class identity and can become a focus to help sort out any problems in the classroom or playround.
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1 min Carpet Tiles
Carpet tiles on the floor, or on cardboard stuck to the wall, allow pupils to have more freedom about where they can stick their name, artwork, or whatever. Enough carpet and velcro will give unlimited opportunities to exercise your imagination!
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1 min Laminated Sheets
To encourage and motivate young students to write more, one card for each day of the week is stuck to the wall, and each day one student writes down something that happened to them. It forms an interactive display that keeps changing and the children enjoy ...
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1 min Assembly
It can be a long wait for all children to gather at morning assembly. Dancing or "voguing" can help keep early arrivals interested and involved, while other classes file in. The movements can be slowed down to a stop when you are ready to begin, ensuring you ...
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1 min Pupil Teacher
A student comes up to the front of the class, and with the help of resources and the other students, they recap the lesson. This helps the teacher assess the lesson and keeps the class on their toes as they do not know who will be picked.
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1 min Mind Corridor
To help develop character in drama class, the teacher presents a dilemma, then puts the pupils into two lines to form a human corridor that one person slowly walks down. The others each make a comment as the student passes, and at the end, the person with ...
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1 min Silent Signal
To help save your voice, use your hand to count down with your fingers until they form a fist. Performed regularly, the students will know that you expect silence by the time you've formed the fist and it will stop you having to shout.
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1 min Toy Soldiers
Instead of history remaining dead on a flat page, or being distorted by movies that present a one-sided view of events, you can use models to help fire students' imaginations and engage them in a particular time period.
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1 min Key Words
Put keywords from a lesson into a bag and divide the class into teams. Students have to describe the word they take out of the bag without actually using it, and get through as many as they can in 30 seconds. Great for the beginning or end of the lesson.
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1 min Glacier
Experiments shouldn't be limited just to science, and they are a good way of bringing the outside world into the classroom, especially when it can be impractical to take the whole class outside. Nothing beats getting your hands dirty!
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10 mins Compilation
A collection of handy tips from Teachers' Trade Secrets, the popular series of bright ideas from the chalkface.
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