A lot of teachers have some type of activity for students to work on after they are finished with work, but most teachers don’t maximize the benefits of this routine. Adding this routines will take 5% more effort, and will lead to HUGE gains throughout the year. I promise you will get a lot of “bang from your buck” here. PLUS, the reason I actually love this idea is because you can use it to differentiate your instruction!
How To Make It
There’s a lot of flexibility on actually producing the extra activities. Examples are: have a table full of tiered activities that students pick from (this will also take some teaching for students to know how to do each thing), centers could be left out with a certain number of seats, some teachers have folders of specific tasks for students (with 20+ students that seems like a lot of planning to me), a list of activities that change weekly on the board, or just an electronic program that is already differentiated for students.
Once you pick your strategy, building the routine requires three steps, Teach It, Practice It, Reinforce It. Show the students what is expected, practice those expectations, and then call kids out when they are not doing the routine. Posted rules is a great idea here.
A great natural consequence for not following the routine is to have students put everything back and try getting it out again. I used this consequence from 5 year olds all the way to 16 year olds… for some reason it’s just annoying enough to make a big statement for any age.
If students are continually struggling, try rethinking the appropriateness of the activity. Maybe it’s too hard or too easy. Or sometimes kids just can’t do certain activities independently.
What It Does For You
- The obvious one here: keeps your kids out of your hair while you are transitioning lessons/subjects/helping other students.
- Teaches kids independence in the classroom.
- Adds interest and choice into the classroom.
- Allows additionally ways to learn or extend the lesson.
- Creates built in work time for on-going projects.
- Allows time for students to work together casually.
- Gives the teacher the opportunity to differentiate your instruction! (WHHHHAAAAT?!) This is a built in routine to give you time to pull students who need things pre-taught (my favorite), re-taught, or lessons extended (your high performing students). And I recommend rotating through these three groups.
Wrapping It Up
Think of how awesome your teaching is going to be from adding this routine! And it will take just 5% more effort this week. Now, I admit this idea is one that will probably take a little extra effort each week you do it, but it is maintainable. Start with easy activities. Put a few worksheets in the routine and call it good. Later when students have mastered the routine, THEN add more engaging and differentiated materials into the routine. You can do this. You’re awesome!
Let me know how routines are going in your classroom!