Are your students slacking off? Taking forever to complete assignments? Do you feel you are pulling teeth with these kids? Well I'll let you in on a secret, kids don't hold themselves accountable because you don't hold them accountable. "But I grade their papers! I encourage them to complete their work!" you say. Ah, but how much extra time do you give them to complete their work? My first year teaching, I often times allowed them to have extra time to complete assignments. However, kids started taking forever to get it done, especially in group work!
My cure to this? a Timer! Having a timer on the board holds myself and my students accountable in completing assignments and instructions.
How does it hold myself accountable? I will occasionally have the timer on when I am giving instruction or a lecture. After 10 minutes, I HAVE to stop talking and let students do some type of work (drawing a representation of what we discussed, filling in a graphic organizer, etc) This keeps kids engaged and I'm not talking all block!
Another advice, give the students their graded papers back ASAP!