December 08, 2004
One suggestion for keeping students on task is to form cooperative groups. Depending on the structure of your activity, assign students to groups of 3 or 4. Give each student a responsibility and hold the entire group accountable for staying on task and completing the activity. One job would be the time keeper, or person who watches the clock to keeps the group moving along; another would be the organizer, or leader, who makes sure that the directions are being followed; and, the third could be the materials person. Regardless of the jobs, give everyone something to do, then provide a specific check list of what they need to accomplish during the class period. When class is almost over, give groups time to reflect and write what they did well and how they need to improve. I would certainly use extrinsic motivation, if necessary, and give everyone an extra point in each group that stayed on task. Remember, though, this only works if you have the task for the day clearly defined.