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Activity Ideas for Interviewing in Upper Elementary

When you interview in upper elementary, it is not uncommon that the administrators will want to see you teach a class. In this post, we’re talking about 4 great activity ideas to work through with a group of unknown students.

Each activity idea also includes some variations of the activity or ways to use resources in interesting ways. Many of our Fun in 5th Grade Resources come in a variety of themes and topics that you can pick from based on the expectations of your interview situation.

Resource Activity Ideas for Interviewing in Upper Elementary

#1 | Close Read Passages with Mystery Pictures

I love close-read activities for teaching an interview lesson.

Close-read passages can work as is, or they are really nice for taking chunks out of. 

Let’s say you want to use the passage from the close read and create some questions of your own; that would work.

Maybe you want to find two similar passages to compare and contrast or practice citing sources.

Working through a close read is also nice for incorporating students into a variety of combinations. You can have students who work through the passage as a small group or pair, then synthesize what they find during a whole group activity.

The questions, the passages, and the many different themes available make choosing one of these close-read activities a good option for an interview lesson.

#2 | Digital Puzzles

Always check with the interviewing school before incorporating any digital activities, but showing a good balance of digital and physical products can be an awesome way to demonstrate flexibility and knowledge.

When using digital products, make sure to pull students back together frequently so that the admins aren’t just watching you watch them do an activity. You’ll want to pick something that draws students in and gets them excited. Maybe you challenge them to beat a specific time or change up pairings frequently. Gamifying digital activities, like these digital puzzles, can show your adaptability and creativity.

In our digital puzzles, students answer questions by sliding the puzzle pieces into place after they locate the answer to the question. If you work through this activity as a large group, students could come up to the board and show their work, or you could incorporate whiteboards.

These digital puzzles can be easily shared with students during the lesson by sharing a link on any internet-connected device.

You could also use it as a formative assessment if you’ve taught a new concept that the digital puzzles directly review.

Check out all of our digital puzzles by clicking here!

Activity Ideas for Interviewing in Upper Elementary

#3 | Reuse and Repurpose Game Show Slides

Game show slides can be great for getting students involved in a variety of activities. 

With so many different topics of game shows to choose from, you can pick one that covers the topic they want you to use for your interview and use the game show slides as examples for the group to work through, or you can just use the scoreboard part of the resource as you do a different activity.

Another option is to repurpose the game show slides into a more hands-on or physical activity. In this blog post, we provide several ideas for repurposing game show slides in the classroom, and these are exactly the kind of activities that will be memorable for the administrators observing your lesson!

#4 | Repurpose and Reuse U-Know Cards

U-KNOW card decks are some of my favorite resources to turn to when trying to come up with a new lesson or when I’m looking for examples to use in a class or in an activity. 

In the store, we have a whole bunch of different decks covering a variety of topics.

These U-KNOW cards can be handed out to students as a warmup activity or passed around the room. They can be laminated to look more professional, and they can be reused and repurposed in many different ways to create many different lessons and activities. 

You can find several activity ideas for interviewing in upper elementary in this blog post about reusing and repurposing U-KNOW cards. 

#5 | Lesson Design: Activity, Instruction, Activity Retry and Refresh

As a way of formatively assessing students during your lesson, start with an activity. The resources we listed above have a lot of elements you can use to design the activity, and the store has so many topics in it that you are sure to find the topic you are teaching a lesson on.

As you plan the activity, you’ll want it to be on the more difficult side but still fun for students. We want them to be successful in the activity even if they aren’t successful with all the answers. We are not looking for something super easy. Rather, we want to see what students already know about the topic we’re going to teach.

The second step of this strategy is to teach the lesson. Focus on just a specific part of the skill you’ve been asked to teach. If you are supposed to talk about run-on sentences, maybe you focus your lesson on identifying nouns and verbs. Don’t try to focus on nouns and verbs, conjunctions, the multiple uses for commas, and what a semicolon does. It is way too much, and you’ll lose the class. Instead, keep your lesson focused.

The last part of this strategy is to retry the activity you started the lesson with. This time, students will know what to do, so you won’t have to spend any time explaining anything, but maybe you can add a new element to keep it fresh. For example, maybe this time, students are in groups or have to run across the room to write down their answers.

This strategy will allow you to engage students in an activity, show administrators how you direct instruction, and then leave both the students and admins with a fun ending to the lesson.

Activity Ideas for Interviewing in Upper Elementary


Other Tips for Teaching a Lesson During an Interview

  • Bring name tags for students. Name tags on desks are not always easy to see, and when students are up and moving around during a lesson, you won’t be able to know their names. Bringing nametags will allow you to call students by name throughout the lesson.

  • Consider teaching an active lesson. Get students up and moving or interacting with content when possible.

  • Own the class; don’t come in as a “sub” or as a “student teacher,” approach the class as if you are 100% in charge of these students.

  • Incorporate an activity of some kind, even when the goal of the lesson is to teach a new concept.

  • Interact with students in a variety of ways. Find ways to speak with the whole group and also to kneel down and work with a student right at their desk.

  • In a 40-minute lesson, divide the time into at least two chunks. Don’t try to do just one activity for the whole lesson unless it is designed to be broken up (for example, the close reads are designed to be viewed through a variety of lenses).

These activity ideas for interviewing in upper elementary are intended to provide you with lots of options for mixing and matching to create a lesson that meets the requirements of your interview. In many cases, you can get a resource, like a U-KNOW deck, a Game Show, or a Close Read on the topic you are being asked to teach, and then adapt that resource to fit the amount of time you have to work with.

The most important part of the interview…own the moment. Don’t get flustered; just process quickly, have a plan, and adapt as needed to show off the many different skills it takes to be a great teacher!

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