The first school I worked in was a behemoth. It was so large that it consisted of five buildings, one for each grade from 6-10. The building contained nowhere close to enough science labs for the number of science lessons it would hold each period, and as a result most of the teaching staff would be teaching in classrooms of the building belonging to whichever grade were to be taught. The result here was having to race across the school at the sound of the bell to make it before your next lesson. I would arrive at the classroom out of breath, clutching my teaching toolbox and whatever other materials were needed and I would want to get the lesson started before unpacking or even sitting down to log onto my computer. After all, class time was precious and I wanted everybody starting off on the right food.
I quickly developed a set of template structures that I could always have to hand. I called these my “Ready-Structures” because they required no other ingredients and lent themselves well to most if not all topics. I’ve attached them to this post – please add or take away from the structures included as you see fit. They’re designed to be printed, cut into a deck of cards and laminated. I’ve always kept mine bound together by a red bull-dog clip and close to hand at all times.
Now that I’m at a school where I have my own classroom giving me time to prepare, I can’t say I rely on these cards quite so much any more. But sometimes I will be caught off guard with potentially dead time through either technology hiccups, speedy students or having my timetable messed around with by senior leadership. Sometimes there might even be a cover lesson you find yourself in where the work left behind hasn’t quite been… enough. For times like these, I find drawing a structure from my little set of laminated cards does just the trick to get or keep the students “In the zone”.