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Early Finisher - Annie
Submitted by Annie (06-11-2012)
In the first year of a formal school, it is a given that there will be a wide variety of ability levels and finishing times so we expect and embrace it in our class!
The independent tasks are introduced
- one at a time
- in a teaching situation: we model/demonstrate the task, do it together as an activity and revise.
This way, you can be (more) sure that the children understand well what is expected of them and won't interrupt you or the others.
In the first terms, I put labelled picture cards with the words on the board to assist children to remember their options and be independent e.g Mobilo + picture. Labelled and laminated photographs of children doing the activity work really well too.
If the task has a limit of how many children can be on it at once, the children write their name under the picture. Once the number has been reached, the next children must select something else to do.
By second semester, I use the words with a quick symbol or stick picture if needed.
Some of the most effective ideas I've used for Early Finishers include:
Peer Tutoring: More able students are asked to help others when they are finished. The students can go to any child with their hand up. We train the peer tutors to show others HOW to do the task e.g. 1 + 1 but not to just give the answers.
Book Box: We have two trolleys with named pull out draws where children store their home and guided readers once read. The Book Box activity gives them time to reread/revisit these stories and consolidate skills. Trolleys take up less room than individual tubs but if you have the space, any container is fine.
Class Library: self select to read/browse
Reading the Room: a huge favourite! Make or purchase some fun pointers which children use to literally read the room - the charts, alphabet, THRASS chart, days of the week - anything you have on the walls and wires across the room. This assists children to engage in their environmental print. Our pointers include rulers, plastic 'pointing hands' purchased from Educational suppliers, fairy wands, magic wands and long timber dowel to reach the high places! Rules: the pointers only point - not hit the charts and any sword fighters are immediately banned for a week and have a few minutes time out /thinking time alone at their desk (watching how the others are using the pointers correctly).
Construction: Lego, Mobilo etc. Put in 'design briefs' and figurines related to your unit to incorporate Design and Technology e.g. 'Make a bridge to hold a Billy Goat on top and a troll to hide under.' Or 'Make a spaceship that is three stories high and can hold 6 astronauts.'
Imaginative Play: Home corner - change this each term to relate to your integrated unit: A toy shop, a grocery story, a vet clinic, a space station etc
Calculator: teach a couple of strategies e.g. repeated addition /subtraction using the = button
Science Table: make observations (e.g. with tadpoles) or explore the items on it (e.g. seed collection)
Free Writing: have a tray with special funky pens, pencils and decorative /bordered paper. Children can then write anything they like. Have an ideas list to assist e.g. letter to mum and dad, joke, once upon a time story...
Free Drawing: children rarely need help with this! You could include picture stencils, Spirograph etc occasionally.
Independent Work Book: have a stapled book of 10 - 20 pages that consolidates skills - nothing new. Children work at their own pace you correct regularly. When finished it goes home in book form rather than loads of loose sheets of paper. Our current one is a Dot to Dot to consolidate alphabetical order (capitals and lower case, and starting at different letters) and number patterns (counting by 2's, 5's, 10's etc).
Extension Projects: if you have children that are well above the average class level, prepare an extension project for them to do. There should be parts that are completed in lesson time with you, and parts that are independent tasks. Using grids that plot the activities according to Bloom's revised taxonomy of thinking skills and/or Gardners' multiple intelligences can help.
Jobs!: there is always little jobs needing doing: - wash paint brushes, tidy the library etc
Challenges: set up little challenges for all to try that are extension of the activity you are doing. E.g. in Measurement, we were measuring the length of our hands, desks and feet using informal measures, estimating first. The challenge task for early finishers was then to estimate then measure the length of the room.