Fast Finishers and Meticulous Incompleters {Finished & Unfinished Trays}

Does it happen to you too? For the vast majority of your students you hit the nail on the head. They get it and they finish their work in the time you have allocated. You pat yourself on the back and you smile! Awesome lesson, you say to yourself. Well done! But wait, there are two sweeties over there working meticulously on their activity and they are just not going to finish before break. Then there is another who will have the same outcome, but for a whole different set of reasons! And don't forget the ever so eager one who completed the task as you finished explaining it. One of the most difficult things I have found when teaching a class filled with differing abilities and learning styles (which is every class you or I have ever taught), is managing the rate at which work is completed. What to do? Enter the finished/unfinished trays.

This is such a simple strategy! When the students finish their independent activity they simply place their work in the finished tray. They can do this as and when they finish the activity without interrupting me. They then work on their 'fast finishers' tasks. One of these tasks is to check the unfinished tray.

If any of the sweeties don't finish their independent activity in the time allocated, they simply place it in the unfinished tray. When a spare five minutes arises through the day, students can collect their work from the tray and continue the activity.

The great thing about this strategy is that all the sheets are in one place for marking! I can also see who is struggling (or taking extra care) with a particular concept at a glance. It has made a huge difference in managing this tricky classroom issue.

If you would like a copy of these free labels click HERE or on the images.

So what are your classroom management tips and tricks? I would love to hear them!


Sight Word Interactive Notebooks

Just in case you have been hiding under a rock, let me tell you about a super fun way to engage your students in learning....Interactive Notebooks! Interactive Notebooks are great for introducing, practicing and revising concepts. Today I would like to walk you through my Sight Words Interactive Notebooks, which have been a wonderful help for students learning high frequency (and often tricky) words.

When the sight word is introduced, I like to have the students trace over the word with their finger. After this, the kiddies stick stickers or use bingo markers to dot the word. Any tactile activity works well here! Under this flap students then write the word in the box shapes and glue. Students then find the sight word in the next two practice examples. These activities are completed on the first day.

By now you will notice there is no getting around it. Interactive Notebooks involve lots of cutting, gluing and coloring. While practicing these skills in the elementary years is important for fine motor development, it can take away precious lesson time. That is why I find that working in small groups (with a parent/volunteer) is particularly helpful when introducing these activities. As students become familiar with the layout and better with their cutting skills, this can be done as a larger group or independent activity.

Students love making the picture! They read and write their sight words as they create the scene. They print, rainbow write and repeat the word. This activity is completed on the second day. Similar opportunities to practice are included with the 'cross' activity, where students trace, color, rainbow write and print the sight word on and under the flaps.

In the 'read and trace' sentence practice activity, students have the opportunity to see the word used in context. This page is completed on the third day.

At the beginning of the year, each word is introduced and practiced over a 3 day period. As students become more confident with the process and their cutting skills, this can be done over a 2 day period and the house picture can be used as an independent revision activity.

I love to use these notebooks when there is an extra 5 minutes to fill throughout the day. The kiddies simply take out their books and revise their sight words! They love it and so do I! Of course, not all activities must be used, or used as I have described. That's what I love about teaching - adapting activities to suit the learners in our care!

Check out this fun learning resource!