Friday, March 16, 2012

Tip #4 - Have a Plan for Downtime

I think that every teacher has experienced that moment, after a great lesson: you look at the clock and realize there are ten minutes left of class. Or, at the end of class, tell students to "talk quietly" for the last five minutes and regret it for the rest of the day. Those type of moments have inspired tip #4: have a plan for downtime. So, what do you do with students when they finish an assignment early or a lesson that didn't last the entire period? Here are some suggestions to combat those headache causing moments.

1. For a lesson that ends a few minutes before the end of a period, spend that extra time reviewing the material with students. Play review tic-tac-toe with students or have students write exit slips that they will pass you as they leave the classroom.

2. Keep a folder with interesting facts, mysteries, or puzzles that you can pull out during the last few minutes. Here is a great file with over 100 free activity suggestions that take just a few minutes. Students become excited and these even seem like a reward for them as much as it is a reward for you to end the class smoothly.

3. For students that finish early, there are several things that I do. One is that I keep a "Folder of Fun" in a drawer with puzzles and activities they can complete. My 50 Fast Finisher Art Activities are an example of some of the things that might be in there. I also have students assist other students who may need additional help or make examples of assignments that I am using for younger classes.

4. Make a list of things students can do when they are finished early and post it in your classroom. This helps students ask less and you can always point to the chart if they are not sure what to do.

5. Take it to the next level of Bloom's Taxonomy. Have the students apply their knowledge of the lesson in a hands on project. Usually students that finish early tend to finish projects more quickly as well so they will be able to move onto the next subject when everyone else is ready.

6. Create an extra project/assignment students only work on when they are finished with the rest of their work. By the end of the quarter/semester/month the project is due.

If you have any other suggestions on ways you cope with fast finishers or the last 5-10 minutes of class, please let us know. We would love to hear them.

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