Teaching first grade and running after two little boys means this girl is always busy, so I need all the time I can get. I’ve posted this first time saver before, but I was just asked to go into more detail so here it is:
1. Create a weekly, not daily, morning message
My morning message not only lets students know what they’ll be learning for the week, but also acts as a teaching tool for the entire week. This message meets all sorts of objectives. Each day we change the date with a post it note. On Monday, students help me fix the mistakes in the message. On Tuesday, we reread and find sight words in the message. This is also a way to differentiate, so you can have students of different abilities find words that are specific to their needs. I also find the daily repeated, shared reading helps build fluency. Days Wednesday-Friday can be used to work on any number of skills. For instance, if our focus is short vowels we might look for short vowel words, the next day we might underline verbs, or nouns. Some days we search for contractions or homophones. We also discuss punctuation, and reading strategies through the message. Each day we circle or underline with a different color marker, so we can distinguish each day’s skill.
All of my student’s have this handy little helper in their chair pocket. It saves me some serious time spelling words and giving answers that aren’t really necessary. Now my students pull out their helper and look for the answer before they ask me. It’s made my kiddos so much more independent.
3. Morning work that isn’t work for you
I’ve always hated making copies and passing our morning work every day. I get to school early, but chit chat always seems to cut my time in half. So I found that this morning work, has saved me so much time.
Here are my kiddos working hard on the tasks. Each student has a morning menu notebook that they get out int he morning and they get started on their tasks.
Here is a sample of the morning menu task cards.There are many ways to use these cards. My kiddos this year aren’t very independent, so I put a card on the overhead each day, my students come in and get to work. It’s been a great timesaver and makes the mornings peaceful.
4. Conferences are coming!
Conferences are this week and next for us, and I don’t have to worry about preparing anything because I’ve been filing away assessments and checklists all year. These pictures are OLD, but all of my students have porfolios. They are divided into 5 sections, (reading, math, writing, spelling and other). All of students assessments, observations and checklists are included. At conference time, I merely pull out the child’s portfolio, go through each section and discuss the strengths and needs of the child as I go. It’s guided my conferences for years and they never let me down.
5. Collect centers all at once
A long time ago when I had a lot more time, I had my kiddos turn in their centers as they completed them. I would keep a checklist of the centers and who completed which center. Then I got smart and busy. Now my students use their center checklist to check off completed centers. All centers go in a folder until the end of the week, when they put their center checklist on top and all center recording sheets underneath. I then collect and staple the packet. I take all of the packets home on Thursday evening and quickly go through their work. I’m able to pass all the packets back on Friday and have students that didn’t complete center work in a timely fashion, finish.
Here is a picture of a student working on a center and a center checklist.
I hope a few of these ideas help you save a few minutes here and there.
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