September 25, 2013

The power of the timer!

A timer, whether it's old school like the one in the opening sequence of Days or a digital one broadcast on the Smartboard is a very effective tool in helping keep students on task and focused.  We had a number of workbook pages to blast through this afternoon and I put the timer on up on the SB and it was very quiet and very productive in our little learning factory. Students knew that if the work wasn't completed during the designated time period, they would use their Fun Friday time to do so. We had about 22 minutes to finish up 15 minutes worth of work and I was really pleased with how well everyone did.

Some children accidentally did work they didn't need to do (I know!What kind of teacher says this?) and I told them to bring their booklets home to finish up the assigned work.  I chose a variety of questions from about eight pages, so I can see how this could have happened.  Certainly no Fun Friday time lost there ;)   

A word about the workbook.  I don't mark every single question. While the kids are working in their booklets, I'll zoom around and check in with each child and do a quick review of where they're at and make sure they're on track, but it's not an effective use of my time if I'm marking each and every question. 

I want to devote my time to planning and marking really rich problem solving activities that really allow my students to demonstrate their comprehension and understanding. The booklets will find their way home and in case you're wondering, "Where's all the checkmarks?" I wanted to explain. 

As I've said, there is a place for some of these "computation" type questions, but I want to be selective about how much time is devoted to those; fully appreciating that if a child can't add to begin with, there is no point in trying to have them solve more higher level thinking questions. 

It's a fine balance, that's for sure.   

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