Every one of us has a finite number of minutes to live, to breathe, to laugh, to learn. And in school, we get only so many minutes each school day, each school year, to guide our students as they navigate learning. If we, as educators, play our cards right, we can maximize the few precious moments we have with our students each and every day throughout the year.
Just last week, I was talking with a principal as he recounted a last-day-of-school episode he witnessed in one of his classes. It was five minutes before dismissal on the last day of the school year, and all the desks and chairs were pushed against the wall for the summer. The students were sitting in a circle with the teacher in the middle, and they were reviewing vocabulary words that described their upcoming summer adventures. Upon seeing the principal walk in, and with a sparkle in her eye, the teacher asked the students, “What do we never do?” In unison, the smiling students enthusiastically responded, “We never waste a minute!”
As we near the end of the school year, is that a mantra you might want to adopt? In every classroom, for every student, do you feel the urgency to make every moment count? If yes, fantastic! If no, here are four ways for making every moment count between now and the end of the school year.
1. Plan Content through the End: Create a calendar for the remaining weeks of school. Work with your grade-level team or department to map out the content you will cover between now and the end of the year. Be sure to map all the way to the last day – make every moment count!
2. Engage in Interactive Review: Two of my favorite books for interactive problem solving are Group Solutions for grades K-4 and Get It Together for grades 4-12. Each activity includes a set of problem-solving cards that get distributed to students in each group. The students work together to collaboratively find the solution, engaging in logical reasoning as well as grade-level math content.
3. Put Together Rotation Stations: Card and dice games are a blast for kids, and the end of the year is a great time to get these games out and let your students engage in game-play as a review of the year’s content. My favorite card and dice game books come from Box Cars and One-Eyed Jacks. Also, check out the KP Mathematics downloadable games.
4. Create “Cheat Sheets” for Next Year: Give each student a note card and ask students to record everything they can think of from this year that they’ll need to remember when they get to math class next year. They need to write small and neatly. Provide lots of skinny colored markers and pencils so they can get creative. And have lots of extra cards available – most students want to make several drafts. Let them use their math books and other resources as a guide.
As you read through these ideas, did any resonate with you? What are your thoughts about making every moment count between now and the end of the year? Please let us know by leaving your comments below.