Do you ever feel like there is never enough time in a school day? That you are always behind schedule? <all teachers everywhere raise their hands> Sure choosing to extend an activity or bask in the moment is one thing, but consistently being behind is SO frustrating. As a class, we learn about, engage in, and begin DOZENS of activities every.single.school.day. So making every moment matter is critical! Today I wanted to share with you some of my favorite tools and strategies for keep our classroom moving and our day rolling ahead.
The Art of the Timer
- It keeps me on track and ensures that I know the big-picture game plan for the day.
- Students learn to budget their time and know when to expect a transition. Being able to expect a transition is huge for students who tend to struggle during these transitions!
- Timers can be motivating for students, as they know a task or activity has a tangible end. Plus, it helps build an attitude of “I can do this!”
- Tracking time is perfect tool and visual for tracking stamina…which we do a lot of in 1st grade!
Online stopwatch is a free timer that counts down and also can act as a stopwatch counting up. With a large screen and easy-to-press numbers, this is my go-to classroom timer especially when we are building reading stamina since it can be seen easily from across the room. It’s simple to use, no bells and whistles, and my 1st graders can easily navigate it. Using this timer makes a coveted classroom job and it also keeps our class rolling. Begin Heggerty, set the timer for 12 minutes, and then, move on.
The iPhone Timer is one of the best tricks of the teaching trade. It is PERFECT for reminding you of those things that always get lost in the hustle of the day – i.e. Alice going to the office for her medicine, taking attendance and sending-in lunch count, sending Jake for Wednesday speech. My iPhone is littered with dozens of reminders and alarms. Plus, you can assign different sounds to each alarm so students know when ‘their’ alarm is sounding and can take action! Once students are trained, it places the responsibility on your students, which helps build independence. #winwin
For times when you need your SMART Board or screen for something but still want a timer, I love this magnetic timer from Scholastic Reading Club that I snagged for FREE with bonus points. It makes a faint ticking sound as it counts down which it a perfect auditory reminder for students that time is limited, and when the time is up, there is a cute little jingle.
I use this timer for impromptu timings, timers for a specific group of students (since it is not evasive and pretty quiet), or when the time needs to move to a certain area of the room. Most of our classroom future is metal, so it is easy to move the timer to our classroom library, our pocket chart center, or Work on Writing.
Lastly, a sand timer (Amazon affiliate link) is a simple intervention and support for individual students who struggle managing their own time or are working toward a specific goal or end. It’s an ideal tool because it is inexpensive, hard to break, small, and silent. No one else in the room needs to know a friend is using a timer!
My “barometer students” (students who help you determine the “weather” of a room and are often the students who break stamina first) keep a sand timer in their book bins. It helps remind them of the just-right times to change books or positions when reading. Additionally, I have several friends who keep a 2 or 3 minute minute timer next to them during Work on Writing to alternate writing and drawing. This is a strategy I use with friends who seem to do a lot of illustrating and just a *little* writing. 😉
Hold On One Second…. <pun intended>
Now are timers always appropriate? Absolutely not! Sometimes we use a timer but decide the learning moment is just too great to pay attention to it. Plus, if a timer is adding stress to the classroom or causing panic, we ditch it! BUT so many times, it is the gentle prod I (as a teacher) need to keep things moving and grooving, and it helps focus many of my learners. Plus, anytime my 1st graders can take responsibility for their own learning and pace themselves, I will also consider that a win!
Do you use timers to help manage time and keep you on track in the classroom? What other tools and resources do you use? I’d love to hear how you keep things rolling in your classroom!
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