Sometimes your students, due to mysterious reasons, finish activities faster than you thought they would. 

That's great, it is because you have explained that grammatical topic incredibly well, of course, it's all your merit. But, the problem is that you may not have any other activity prepared, you know, we are just only human! Don´t beat yourself up about it!

Observation is fundamental during a lesson so that you can know how an activity is developing in the classroom:

-Have they understood the instructions?

-Do they like the activity?

-Does it motivate them?

-Is it too easy for them?

-Too difficult?

Just by looking at their faces there are many things that you will already know. This is one of our teaching superpowers. In a previous article I listed a whole alphabet of activities that you could have up your sleeve when needed. So, what are we talking about here?

We are going to consider different ways of squeezing an activity out to the last drop.

1. With any activity:

-tell them to do it individually.

-then, tell yours students to sit in pairs and compare and discuss their results.

-Finally, get them into groups and ask them to hand in just one common outcome from the whole group. Therefore, they will have been talking about an activity for a long time, critically, reflecting about it and explaining their points of view to the rest of the group, as well as being able to listen to opinions different from their own.

2. Another possibility:

Ask them to present their result using a digital tool, whether a video, such as Powtoon or Flipgrid, or using other collaborative resource, such as Wakelet or Padlet, for example.

3. Use their thirst for revenge:

You can always ask your students to correct and mark each other's activities, they love doing that. They can do it with a red pen or digitally, with tools such as Corubrics.

4. You can change the activity from the inside:

If they are working in groups, you can suddenly ask the students to work individually or you can ask them to move to another group. That will make them to have to explain everything that was going on in their previous group in the new one.

5. Change the way the final product of the activity is presented:

Imagine that they’re working on a typical Fill in the Gaps activity related to Grammar, those wonderful activities in which you have to write the verb in the right tense. You can ask them, during the activity, to record their answer to you, for instance using a free digital tool called Vocaroo (it is really easy, just go to the webpage and start recording). In other words, change the skills involved.

6. At the other extreme, if an activity is going too slow:

You can transform it into a competition with a great prize, such as leaving the class earlier than other students or bringing sweets in for them the following day. Out of the blue, their motivation will rise and their level of concentration will magically achieve unknown levels. Extrinsic motivation? Maybe. Why not? Life is just a game.

There are so many ways of altering an activity during the process either to make it longer or shorter, that it would be impossible to include all of them in just one article.

Just use your imagination, and theirs too.

Ingrid Mosquera, PhD.

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