Early Finishers

tips for early finishers.pngWhat in the world do you do with early finishers? This is a big question for teachers! I think it is important to teach your students to check their work when finished. Teaching students to improve their work when they think they are finished is a valuable lesson. But, after that, there are always going to be a handful of students who will finish their work sooner than the rest of the class. So, back to the question … What do you do? Sitting and waiting for the rest of the class to finish or doing busy work can be very boring and is not giving these students a chance to continue learning. Here are some of my favorite ideas for early finishers!

Set up a system for students so they can find out what to do without disrupting the class or asking you while you are helping other students. I love this display that can be set up at the front of the room.  The signs can be switched out depending on what you want the students to do each day.

 

 

Make sure your students know your expectations so they are not off task or disruptive. This poster is a great example and it is free! You could also make an anchor chart.

Have a place to organize the materials and supplies the students need for the activities to minimize questions such as “where do I get paper for _____ …. ?”

Extension menus are great for independent work. I like this reading menu, but you could make a menu for any subject. For example, if you are working on place value you could have a menu with place value activities for students to choose from.

Bulletin boards such as Boggle or Noggle can be fun! You can change the numbers or letters out every week or two. You could even put some students in charge of updating the board and making the answer key!

Stem Bins are a great hands on activity. Lots of fun while building reasoning skills.

Partner games and centers are a way to let your students interact with others while practicing skills.

Computer games and websites can be great learning tools. Make sure you set procedures up for how to get online and which sites students will go. Here are some of my favorites!

For more great ideas check out my early finishers board on Pinterest!

Tips to Plan and Prep for Math Workshop or Guided Math

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While there may be times that you want to use a traditional whole group model for instruction, there are other times you need to work with small groups in order to differentiate for your individual student’s needs. Math workshop (or guided math) is a very successful way to work in small group instruction time and maximize student learning. To make the best use of your time, planning and preparation are key. I have rounded up some of my favorite tips and resources here:

1.) Plan how to use your time! I like to start my Math class with a quick warm up and skill review and then move onto a mini-lesson when needed. Some new concepts can be taught to the whole group quickly and then reinforced in centers / stations. Some need longer time. This is where you have to decide what is best for your classroom, but a few helpful blogs have great ideas for scheduling:

 

2.) Find or create a simple lesson plan template and/or small group template:

3.) Set up a binder to keep schedules, plans, templates, and notes.

4.) Pick and post your rotation system.

5.) Group students by ability or interest. Grouping should be flexible and change often based on student’s individual needs.  For example, sometimes you may need to group students who need re-teaching on a specific skill and other days you may need to group students based on interests when planning projects. Another idea is to sometimes work with students you know will need extra help and pre-teach them a skill you will be teaching the whole class later in the week. This can save you time re-teaching later and will help boost their confidence and success when the class learns the skill.

6.) Teach your students the expectations for groups.

7.) Set up an organizational system and teach your students how the system works.

9.) Reflect and Plan for Next Time:  When you get to the end of the schedule, take some time to reflect before setting up the next rotation.  What worked? What was confusing? etc… This is also a time to look at your student groups and decide if you need to change anyone to a new group.

For more ideas, check out my Pinterest Board “Guided Math”.

 

Clever Ideas for Organizing Math Stations

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These clever ideas for organizing math stations are going to help keep your classroom tidy all year long! Each tip is clickable and will lead you to more details about organizing the math stations.

  1. Use colorful storage drawers with wipe off labels to rotate your current centers throughout the year.

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2. Use empty frosting cans to store card games.

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3. Store your manipulatives with or near your centers.

4. Use zippered pencil pouches for centers. (Free labels here.)

5. Gallon sized Ziploc bags are super helpful.

6. Label clear shoeboxes for simple storage.

7. Number your baskets or bins for each center.

8. Prepare Math tubs ahead of time.

9. Wide plastic drawers are great for organizing centers.

10. Use a pocket chart and colorful labels to keep track of groups.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why & How to Use Task Cards in The Classroom

Why?

Task Cards Save Paper: Using task cards can cut down on the number of copies and paper used because you don’t need to make a set for each student and if laminated or kept in protective sleeves, they can be used for years without printing new copies. 

Task Cards Increase Engagement: They add to student engagement because they add novelty. Paper and pencil practice is certainly useful, but can become dull and routine.  Using dry erase markers on a task card can mix things up a bit.  Also, task cards can be printed with fun colors and clip art to add interest for the students.

How? 

Centers and or Work Stations – Print cards and keep in small containers or baggies.  Have students work in pairs or groups solving problems on task cards and recording on a record sheet.  I like using record sheets for two reasons. One, the students are more likely to stay on task if they know they will have to turn something in at the end of the center. And, the other reason, I like to look over the record sheets to see if students need re-teaching or extra help with the skill/concept worked on in the center.  If you do not have a lot of copy paper you can always have students use notebook paper to create a record sheet.  Have them write the name of the center on the paper and then number or letter their answers.

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Whole Class Cooperative Groups – My suggestions for whole class would be the same as for work stations & centers except you would need one set of task cards for each table group.  After learning or reviewing a concept with whole class, the students could work on the cards with their table groups.   After the group work you could have a class discussion about the task cards as a way to wrap up. Another whole class activity which would require only one set of task cards is a “Scoot” or circuit.  To set up a Scoot you have a different task card on each desk and have the students work in pairs rotating around the set of task cards in numerical or alphabetical offer.  Some teachers will set a timer for scoot and others will let students move as they finish.  For a FREE  “Scoot Record Sheet” that can be used with any set of task cards, click here.

ScootSheetPREVIEW

 

 

 

 

 

 

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15 Terrific Back to School Bulletin Boards

7 fun back to school math activities!

Looking for bulletin board ideas for back to school? Look no further, I have 15 terrific bulletin boards for you to see!

1.  The bright colors on this design are awesome against the black background and the students will love to see their names! What a way to welcome the kids to class!

2. This bubble gum machine would be a fun way to welcome kids back! Put their names on the gumballs. Says first grade, but would work for any grade.

3. Have a sports theme? These jersey’s are super fun and cute just like this! You could also switch it up and give the students paper cut out like jerseys and have them design their own!

4. Another sports bulletin board! The students could decorate their own basketballs or you could prepare ahead of time with their names!

5. I love this interactive board! Such a great message for your students. You can have them write their dream on a cloud on the first day of school!

6.  This Guess Who bulletin board is so clever!

7.  I love this colorful back to school board! Take pictures at meet the teacher or first day of school and display!

8. Have a super hero theme? This super hero bulletin board rocks!

9. This clever display would take a little time to work out, but is SO terrific!

10. How about  a movie star theme? Your students will have fun writing bios for their photos!

11. These tissue paper cupcakes are so sweet!  I love the 3D effect from the tissue paper!

12. This burlap background with a welcome back banner is so cute and colorful!

13. So, technically this is a door display, but this owl theme would work great on a bulletin board as well!

14. I love this FAMILY bulletin board. What a great way to make students feel like they belong in the classroom!

15. This bulletin board is beautiful AND has a great message!

Want to see more bulletin boards? Check out my board on Pinterest:

 

Back To School Math

Guess what?!?  It’s time to get ready to go back to school!  Here in my little world we have less than 2 weeks left until the kids are back in school!

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If you are a parent looking for something to use to help our kids brush up on Math Skills before the school year stats off, I have something perfect for you!  If you are a teacher looking for classroom work to help get your students back into gear, I also have something for you! Continue reading