Let’s talk about transition times. I always find that transitions are some of the most neglected times in the “classroom planning” phase. Planning how you will manage transition times is just as important as planning your lessons and room set-up at the beginning of the year.
When you are deciding how you will manage transitions, there are a few key parts of the day to consider:
Morning – The transition between getting to school and starting class is an important one. What will your students do as soon as they get into the classroom? What do they do when they get to their desk/table? One idea is to have a notebook called “Morning Activities” on each desk. Have 4 -6 questions written on the board. Students know that as soon as they get into the classroom, they are to work on the Morning Activities for about 5-10 minutes. When they are finished, they should remain at their desk (you might tell them that they can draw a picture, read a book, or make up some of their own questions while they wait). Take a few minutes to discuss the activities before you begin the formal school day. This is a good opportunity to integrate a 2-minute mini-lesson on a skill that you are reinforcing.
The End of the Day – This can be a chaotic time. You might have parents at the door, students needing their agendas checked over, clean-up happening, and other students still finishing their work. You need a solution that will keep the classroom quiet, engaged and well-managed. I love the website Storyline Online, or similar websites where celebrities read stories aloud. After students clean up under their tables at the end of the day, you can use your projector to put on a story from Storyline Online while students write in their planners. After they have written and you have checked the planner, they can go quietly and sit in front of the interactive whiteboard to listen to the story. Kids are never too old to listen to someone read a story to them! They love it! And when parents come to pick up their children, they can quietly leave the area without disturbing anyone.
Between Activities – Minimizing transition times between activities will give you more teaching and learning time. How do you do this? Students need to know what is going on and which materials they need. They also need to know your expectations. You can do this by establishing routine. For example, do you have a Morning Meeting each morning? How do you expect students to move after their meeting ends? Quickly? Quietly? Straight to their desks? Practice this over and over and over again until everyone gets it right. Give lots of praise when they do a great job. What about during station or center time? Do students know which supplies they will need for each station? Do they know where to go next? Take 5 minutes before beginning to tell them exactly what to expect. Perform the same routine every single time that you do centers. They will soon be able to do it with their eyes closed.
When They Finish Early – What do you expect your students to do when they finish their work early? This is an important time to consider so that your early finishers do not become an interruption to the rest of the students who are still working. Additionally, you want your fast finishers to remain engaged in learning activities. Some teachers expect students to read a book when they are finished. If this is the case for you, ensure that students have a book with them at all times. Other teachers like to have a task card station available for their early finishers. Others have a folder of early finisher activities in their desks to keep them engaged (you can find lots of free printables for an early finisher folder here). Many teachers also use The Early Finisher Board. This board can be set up on a tri-fold board, bulletin board, or even in folders. When students finish early, they can choose a task from The Early Finisher Board to complete. This gives them the freedom to choose activities based on their interests.
If you’d like to read about even more great Back to School ideas, stop by my friends’ blogs by using the link-up below. Enjoy!