Pencil Sharpener Jokes
September 24, 2003
Before quizzes and tests, I found that the line for the pencil sharpener was longer than usual. Since I can’t talk over the noise of the sharpener, I cannot use this time to give instructions or announcements. The beginning of class turned into disorganized wasted time adding to the stress level of some students who are nervous about the test.
To use this wasted time and help students de-stress, I've asked students to wait for pencil-sharpening/joke telling time. I make any announcements or instructions needed at the beginning of class, and then I announce that they have 45 seconds to get their pencils ready and to tell their neighbor a funny joke. The students want to hurry back to their seats so they can hear or tell a joke. After the time is up, I ask for one student to share their joke. We all laugh and start the quiz on a relaxed note. And at the same time, I've reduced the time it takes to start a quiz.