TEACHERS! Here’s a Free-RangeWay to Get Students to LISTEN

Hi Folks!  I love this lesson, brought to us by Free-Range teacher Jennifer Tobin of Whitby, ON. (Where I recently gave a talk.) In my ramping-up efforts to get Free-Range projects into the schools, I welcome any more tales from teachers or principals who have used Free-Range in the classroom…or outside it. Thanks! – L.

Dear Free-Range Kids: I had wanted to do a Free-Range project with my students for a long time and I was inspired by my 8-year-old son.  I am a teacher and I volunteer with Scouts Canada as a Beavers leader.  My son recently moved up to Cubs  but comes to my Beavers meeting to help out as an unofficial Keeo (a third year Cub).  We often have him run simple games with the Beavers (aged 5-7 ) as we finish up crafts or activities with the early finishers, like Octopus or TV Tag.  He was complaining to me one night that sometimes the Beavers don’t listen so we talked about some strategies to encourage people to listen and accept that sometimes people still won’t.  LIGHTBULB MOMENT!  Maybe one of the reasons kids aren’t great listeners is because they don’t have the opportunity to be the speaker and see what it is like to be speaking and people aren’t listening.

I then challenged my fourth graders to pick a game that they would each like to teach the class.  Every day, one student has the role of “teacher” and teaches the class how to play a game or do an activity.  They need to bring the materials required (or make arrangements with me to get them from my supply cupboard) and be prepared to lead the activity.  Afterward, they reflect on how it went and how well they feel people listened to them.  It’s amazing to see how some of my usual “clowns” now listen!  They are loving the opportunity to be in charge, but are also seeing the perspective of the teacher and how frustrating it can be when you are trying to teach something and people keep interrupting.  As an added benefit: The games the kids are teaching are now being played at recess, so there are fewer problems arising since they have a ton of new games to try out!

Lenore here: When I asked Jennifer for the assignment so other teachers could try it, she graciously sent this:

Oral Presentation Assignment:  Teach the Class


               You are going to teach the class something!  You can teach the class a favorite game (a variation of tag, Octopus, a soccer drill, etc.,), a craft (paper airplane, origami), a song,  or anything you can think of that you can get the whole class to do (like how to eat an Oreo cookie)!  You will have 10 minutes to teach the class and must bring all of the supplies needed.  You can do this activity inside or outside.  Please let the teacher know if there is something that you need to borrow from the classroom supplies.  We have 26 students in the class so please keep that in mind when you are planning your activity.  The internet is a good place to search for kids’ games or craft ideas, but you don’t have to use the internet to do this assignment.

Success Criteria:

-        You must be heard by all of your classmates, speaking clearly with the appropriate volume

-        You must include all of the students in the class

-        You must lead or teach the class in your activity

-        You must be a respectful listener when others are teaching

-        You will write a reflection on the experience after your turn, in proper paragraph format and grade appropriate spelling, grammar, punctuation and capitalization.


Have fun being the teacher!

Oral Presentation:  Teach the Class


Needs more work Getting There! Got It! WOW!
Speaking Skills:I spoke with a clear voice, at an appropriate volume level.I answered questions that people asked.
Communication:My instructions were easy to understand.My instructions were given in an organized manner.I had all of my materials prepared ahead of time.Everyone was encouraged to participate.
Listening Skills:I was a respectful listener when others were teaching.I asked appropriate questions so I could understand the instructions better.
Written Reflection:I wrote about what I did well, what I could work more on and what I would do differently next time.I wrote in paragraph format.I checked my spelling, grammar, punctuation and capitalization.

Name:  ___________________________________________________________________


Teach the Class Reflection


Write two to three paragraphs about your experience teaching the class your activity.  Tell what you think you did well, what you could have done better and what you think you should do next time.



How do you think this assignment has helped you to become a better listener?


 Lenore here again: I love the idea of kids sharing games, and also the way this assignment helps kids see what it means to be a leader (and a respectful follower). If any teachers start using this, I hope they will drop a line to tell us how it goes! 

But enough about me, class. It's time for YOU to teach!

But enough about me, class. It’s time for YOU to teach!


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