So, it seems my classroom “BOT” has gotten rusty.
Not only did I not register that fact, I only learned of the cool acronym “BOT” for a teacher’s “Bag Of Tricks” after reading Lisa Wood’s blog post “BOT: Why Every Teacher Should Have One”.
Lisa Wood defines a BOT as “a combination of items that could be used to help out in a sticky situation, solve a problem or respond to a need”. You know, things to use in all sorts of unplanned situations that I feel a need to plan for, such as:
- Half the class is absent (taking make-up tests, flu season, etc.)
- Some sort of disturbance or exciting event took place in the schoolyard/assembly hall before the lesson began and everyone is distracted.
- Students have a big math test later on in the day
- I want to conduct an impromptu review of a certain topic for a number of students.
I find Lisa’s SIXTEEN BOT items (some of which are completely new to me!) and suggested uses particularly inspiring because she teaches teenagers too! I can adapt some or create a different version of them to suit my needs. Check them out!!!
It was easy to have a BOT when I taught elementary school. I needed them often in my special classes for Deaf and hard of hearing students. I always had the following items with me:
- Multi faced dice with extra numbers, in different colors and shapes (dice that are used for Dungeons and Dragons!).
- Coloring sheets of various kinds (coloring according to instructions, connect the dot with the letters of the alphabet instead of numbers, etc)
- Colorful magazines with “find me” items pasted on the cover. The children had to locate (and write down ) the page numbers where they found the items on the list which had been pasted on the magazine’s cover, such as “a man is eating a banana”, ” a blue sofa” and “two people are talking”.
- More colorful magazines for kids to cut out items from and paste in their notebooks.
- Sticky tac – the gum-like substance that lets you hang any picture or page on the whiteboard (or on a table, chair, etc) and then easily remove it again.
- An envelope with the names of the students so that it would be clear that students’ turn was chosen randomly.
- A picture of an American baseball player to stick on the whiteboard when playing “whiteboard baseball”.
BUT WHAT ABOUT HIGH-SCHOOL?
Some of these items made the transition well to teenagers, particularly the multi-faced dice which students like. I have a few different board games (the kind with a track, start here end there) for reviewing vocabulary.
While coloring pages are out, I do have students who need to “defuse” (particularly girls, I have to admit) who occasionally prepare colorful signs and cover sheets for materials in the classroom. You can’t beat coloring for indoor relaxation.
I never had ” a question box” like Lisa suggested, but I used to have a grammar name box, following something I read by Penny Ur. I’ve forgotten about it and haven’t used it in ages. Maybe it’s time to renew it. It added spice to grammar!
There is only one remnant of the magazines with things to find on them. A beautiful hard-cover photography book has a permanent page of items to find inserted in the front cover. But that has become part of the curriculum – it appears on the 10th-graders’ list of extra tasks to complete for the semester grade (there are six a semester, mostly on our class website), so it’s no longer a BOT.
My best and favorite high-school BOT, which I call “the disappearing eraser” (also called “reverse reading” “live dialogue” and “disappearing text”) requires no prep, just the whiteboard.
However, The word-puzzles, riddles, and particularly the once-beloved questionnaires ( you know the genre: “what kind of friend are you? ” etc.) that we used to do, lie unused in the closet. I’ve become so concerned with time that I don’t pull them out anymore. So many lessons are canceled for school activities, many students have attendance problems and with my special needs students, progress is slow on the mandatory material.
I hadn’t even thought about the pros of cons of not using my BOT material anymore. And I haven’t added new, energizing material in a long time.
Thank you, Lisa Wood’s for making me examine the BOTS!
How about you?
What are your BOTS?