10:30: Elementary Learners and Social Studies Projects As noted in my last issue, I alternate between teaching science at 10:30, and teaching social studies. I covered science last time, so now I have a few thoughts on my elementary social studies block of instruction. Although social studies … [Read more...]
Minute-by-Minute through a Day in My Classroom
It would be hard to overstate how important a regular school schedule is to the success of your elementary students.
Humans of all ages simply like comfortable routines...we like to know what's going to happen next. Sometimes it is good to shake up a routine to get out of a rut, but that’s not true in your elementary school classroom.
In your classroom, the faster you can establish a schedule, the better off your students will be.
First Day = First Schedule
I start working on a schedule from the very first day. As I outline in my first days of school articles, a definite schedule tells the children immediately that they are "in school" and it's time to learn and not play. (Okay, we do play a little bit, but you get the idea).
I take my classroom schedule so seriously that I post it on the white board every day, and my children have come to rely upon that. If your classroom is filled with kids who are always asking "what's next?" then I recommend putting a few notes up each morning telling them what to expect.
Just like adult participants in a training session or seminar, everyone wants to know what's on the agenda for the day.
Simply having a set routine in the schedule — even one that may change depending upon the day the week — can go a long way toward alleviating their concerns about coming to school.
School Schedules: Key to Covering Content
Aside from the calming effects of a regular classroom schedule, it is very important to understand its impact on your ability to get through all of the content that you must cover. There is an awful lot to teach our kids and the amount that is expected goes up with each grade level.
Without schedules, teachers find themselves chronically short of time at the end of day and end of the week (and even the end of the year) for getting through all the required content.
Every day that you slip behind adds up until finally, you find yourself without time to do the final chapter in math or the final lesson in reading even though these skills will be tested on a high-stakes assessment.
I realized pretty quickly that a well-developed school schedule is critical for continuing to push through content while allowing plenty of time for review and re-teaching.
Making my experience work for you
In this section, I’m going to take you minute-by-minute through a typical day in my classroom, starting out on the blacktop before the first bell even rings.
I think you'll enjoy it a lot, so come with me as we head downstairs at 8:50 in the morning to grab those excited little learners who are ready to start another day.
10:30: Bringing the Wonderful World of Science to Children By 10:30 in the morning, my kids are done with math and we move on to either elementary science activities or social studies. In this article, I’ll discuss my approach to science and I’ll cover social studies in the next … [Read more...]
10:30: Helping Faster Learners and Managing Classroom Transitions Students who finish early can be challenging to teachers who are trying to manage a group of children. These tips will help you keep boredom at bay for gifted children. Engaging Early Finishers In my last article, I was … [Read more...]
9:45 AM: Math Mini-Lessons and Practice Teaching mathematics always qualifies as my students' favorite subject! Here's how I keep the interest level high while introducing new material. When we’re done with number strings (also known as related problem sets), it’s time for the math mini-lesson … [Read more...]
9:30 AM: Number Strings (Related Problem Sets) It's time for some whiteboard activities! This is a favorite time for my students. Let's review: We are up to 9:30 in my school day. The entry task is done and corrected (as a group). It's time for my kids to turn in their papers and grab a … [Read more...]
9:25 AM: Providing Effective Feedback In the 9:20 article, I mentioned that kids give themselves and overall score of 4, 3, 2 or 1 on their entry task questions. In addition, some students will often put a number by a particular problem with which they have an issue, and that's entirely fine...I … [Read more...]
9:20 AM: Applying my My 4-Point Scale Scoring entry tasks for students is most-effective with a 4-point scale. They self-score from "nailed it" to "help me!" for targeted teacher follow-up. Recall that in my 9:15 article, I talked through how my kids score their entry tasks on the spot for … [Read more...]
9:15 AM: Sharing Answers, Collaborative Learning Entry task ideas are all over the internet, but I always urge caution when considering an "off-the-shelf" approach to curriculum. There's no time for wasting the first 15 minutes of the day on a task that does not directly build student … [Read more...]
9:00 AM: Taking Care of Business As I outlined previously, my children are working on their math entry task before the first bell rings and completely finished by 9:15. So what are these tasks and what am I doing during that same period of time? I always use math entry tasks because that’s the … [Read more...]
8:55 AM: Classroom Schedule Underway without Delay Entry tasks are those initial assignments we have students work on while we take attendance and handle other events in the morning. Some teachers regard this morning task as something close to "busywork" to keep kids quiet. Not in my room! Let's … [Read more...]