The five minute show

Manaswini Sridhar

Like all teachers, I too experience some days when I teach beyond the school bell because I haven’t completed what I had set out to. There are other days when I complete my task way ahead of time! These happen to be the days when my students have been focusing or perhaps they are days when I am doing a better job. Whatever the reason, I find that I have five precious minutes left and really don’t know what to do! I would like to utilize this time to the greatest extent too!

five-minutes It would be ideal for all of us if we could finish five minutes before the scheduled time. This gives us the opportunity to interact with our students in a relaxed manner. There are many things that you could do here, and if you wish to, you could also relate it to the subject you are teaching, just so that you or others do not feel you are rambling…

If you are a language teacher, you could always read out a story. Or better still, read half the story and get the students to guess what the ending could be! This is a good way of exercising their imagination and improving their vocabulary. You could then tell them how the writer has ended it. Yes, for this, you would have to have a ready supply of short stories in class. But this should not be difficult to do!

You could also have a game related to the parts of speech. Have each student think of an adjective or a noun. Make it imperative that students do not repeat what has already been said. This is a good way of getting the grammar done orally and you will also be amazed by the fact that students understand and appreciate grammar better! For more advanced and keener students, you could combine grammar and pronunciation! For example, you could toss such questions as: a two-syllable adjective with the accent on the first syllable (lazy, happy) or a proper noun with three syllables (Maria, India).

If you are teaching mathematics, give them some mental arithmetic. You could also give them mathematical puzzles to solve. This is a sure way of stimulating children. Have them solve the puzzles in small groups so that it gets done faster and they are able to discuss with one another.

If you are a Geography teacher, pull down the map. Point out to a country, ask them the capital, the language spoken there, the famous places there, the currency and all the other facts that they have learned. You will be surprised that some of your students know much more than what you have taught them. Find out if someone has been to that country, what language they speak there, and what is peculiar about their culture. You will be learning yourself!

As a science teacher, you too could draw on your subject. Talk about the latest epidemic in the country or the town. Find out whether the students are aware of the causes and the methods of prevention. This is also a technique of creating health awareness among them.

If at the end of the day you are tired, and don’t want to have anything to do with your subject, well, the sky is the limit. Have students come up to the front of the class and tell jokes. This has the class in splits (either because the joke is funny or the class is unable to understand the joke!) and relaxes everyone. It is also a way of getting students exposed to presentation skills and overcoming the fear of speaking to an audience.

Encourage students to ask one another riddles. This gets the class thinking and also compels the questioner to select the correct words to pose the question. Encourage the non-talkers to open up and demonstrate what they know. Have the students tell a short story. If there is a writer in your class, encourage them to read out their latest story or poem.

There is no dearth of ideas once you decide to make every minute of your class productive. Students love talking, no matter what the subject is. You just have to encourage them and sit back and listen!

The author is a teacher educator and language trainer based in Chennai. She can be reached at