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Studies on attention span indicate that learners stay tuned in to a lecture for about fifteen to twenty minutes at a time. To restart your students' attention, consider a "change-up" or "quick think." A "change-up" is a student-active break lasting two to fifteen minutes. Ideally, change-ups should be timed to give students the opportunity to integrate the most important concepts covered in class.

Examples of "change-ups" or "quick-thinks" include:

  • Write a Question
    Ask the students to take two or three minutes to write a question they have about the material just covered. Ask for volunteers to ask and answer questions.
  • Think (or Write) "Pair" Share
    Pose a challenging question and have students either think or write their response for a few minutes. Have them share their response with their neighbor. Ask volunteers to share their responses with the large group.
  • Pair and Compare
    Students are asked to pair up and compare notes, expanding upon them as needed.
  • Periodic Recall
    Students stop taking notes, close their books and write down two or three main points from the lecture thus far. Students could then compare and discuss what they have written with a partner.
  • Re-order the Steps
    Present a series of steps in a mixed order and have students re-order the steps correctly. Or, assign each student a part in a series of steps and have them physically arrange themselves in the room in the correct sequence.

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