Thursday, April 7, 2016

3 Easy Ways To Save PRECIOUS Instructional Time

3 Easy Ways To Save PRECIOUS Instructional Time - A Word On Third


Hi, Teachers!

Have you ever struggled to fit in the things you love because you feel like you don't have enough time during the day? Whether it be fitting in a read aloud, a closing circle at the end of the day, or 15 minutes of choice time, I'm going to share my best 3 ways to fit time into your day. Making time isn't too hard to do with a little creative thinking and schedule-tweaking on your part!

I'm going to share my favorite 3 ways to add time into your day, and some may really surprise you!

1. Stop assigning morning work.

This is the best thing I started doing for myself. Why do it? Do you want to reinforce math? Great--you can still do a math warm up at math time. Want to keep kids busy until everyone is ready? That's OK, you can have them do something until everyone has arrived and unpacked for the day. Morning work ends up taking a ton of time. The kids need to do it, then you probably review it with them, and then sometimes you end up grading it too! THAT'S TOO MUCH TIME!!! Give meaningful morning work if you need the kids to do something while everyone arrives. Some options are:

  • Sorting through word study words
  • Reading independently or with a partner
  • Performing class jobs (see tip #2)
  • Math Labs (pattern block puzzles, riddles, etc)
Did you notice a pattern? All 4 of those options can be stopped immediately. That's the best part about giving up on assigning traditional morning work. There's nothing they need to "complete" when you let this go. Now, I totally appreciate that you want kids engaged until everyone is ready, but all you have to do now is give your quiet signal, give your direction, and then kids can transition to whatever it is you want to do. I know a lot of teachers who lose 10-15 minutes each day on morning work. That's a minimum of 1,800 minutes per year! THAT'S 30 HOURS!! That's almost a whole week of school!! 

Some teachers get even more creative with this. Maybe the kids start reader's workshop as soon as they come in. That might look like starting your reading block with a little independent reading, pausing to say good morning and fit in your mini-lesson, and then going back to independent reading. Personally, I don't think that method would work for me right now because 1--the morning is a great time for my kids to check in with each other and they need to be social, and 2--I have a special first period. But get creative and find what works for you!


2. Teach responsibility through giving students class jobs.

I've written about the jobs I assign to students here. Most of you probably assign students class jobs, but this is a tool which I feel is not utilized to it's full potential all of the time. I'm no exception to this rule! I am constantly figuring out new things my kids can do. Every year (and during the year sometimes!) I re-vamp my class jobs or add job descriptions to specific jobs in my room. There's more to this than you might realize though...

3 Easy Ways To Save PRECIOUS Instructional Time - A Word On Third

Guess who made that bulletin board? I made it once... two years ago. In the fall. Each time it changes, my kids are the ones making it! I HIGHLY recommend you click here or click the image above to see how to get kids in charge of bulletin boards. There are so many things your kids can do other than bulletin boards. With a little advance teaching on your part, kids should be checking homework (teach them what to look for), organizing your library, changing the calendar and schedule (my kids look at my lesson plans and update the schedule for the next day), and more. There are SO many things you can delegate!! That clears up time for you! 

But... sometimes spending time on class jobs can be tough, right?

NOT ANYMORE! Check out my post about how I use Find It & Fix It. My room is clean within 60 seconds. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I'm not exaggerating. Read more about that in my post with my best tricks for a clean classroom.


3. Take time out for brain breaks.

Whether you choose to use Responsive Classroom Energizers, some tried and true brain breaks you already know, or GoNoodle, it is SO important that you get your kids moving around. Research shows that kids should be moving around every ten minutes.

Now, you are probably thinking... How on earth you can GAIN time in your classroom by spending it moving around!?!?! You're crazy, Marla!! Maybe your gut is even telling you... This suggestion is a waste of my time! Try to ignore that little voice in your head and hear me out.

Kids who move around and get their energy out are MORE engaged. When your kids are engaged, you have to stop less during lessons. Stopping less = more time! This can be something you do during transition periods, and it will motivate kids to transition more quickly. Some brain breaks only take 30 seconds to do! Let's be real... 30 seconds of an intense wiggle sesh are totally worth 10 minutes of engagement. Responsive Classroom says that kids need "BSF" -- belonging, significance, and fun. Brain breaks are FUN! If kids don't get enough fun in their day, they make their own fun (like poking their friends or chatting during your mini-lesson). This is exactly the kind of thing you NEED to do every day to make sure your kids are having fun.

My goal is usually to fit in 5 GoNoodle brain breaks a day. I do not always use GoNoodle. I have a lot of Energizers I do on my own! But doing this absolutely gives me more time in my day. My first year of teaching, I did none of these. When I found out about these, it blew my mind how much of a difference it made. Check out GoNoodle for free by clicking below!


I could NOT love GoNoodle any more if I tried. I recommend checking out Koo Koo Kangaro, Maximo, and the Sports/Run With Me channels. When I'm looking for something quick, my kids like "Run Like The Kitty." You can read a blog post about GoNoodle for beginners here.

You can also check out my community building brain breaks by clicking the picture below. This is a great way to get kids moving. You can spend 3-5 minutes on these 1 or 2 times a week, and it makes a big difference. Kids get a chance to be social, get moving, and get energized. If you get those glazed-over looks while you're teaching, pull this one out. It's bound to wake kids up! I've linked you to the free version. If you decide you like it, you can get a full version of no-prep bingo boards good for the whole year by clicking on the link in the product description in this freebie.


So those are my three tips for you! Which do you think you're going to try first? Comment below!

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