How to respond when students finish their work early is a classic teacher challenge. Most of it boils down to creating learning opportunities where students are naturally funneled toward extending, improving, and sharing their work. This turns stopping points into more of a matter of scheduling than learning. All of the following ideas, however, are great for those moments when students finish their work early and have a little spare time.
- Dig: Ask the student to go deeper into the topic. Given access to a book or an app, this could easily become a default classroom strategy.
- Level-Up: Prepare levels like in a game. Have students start at level 1, and they can move on to the more difficult levels if they finish early.
- Homework: Students may move on to homework and complete it early.
- Correct: Give students the rubric and let them score their own work. Self-assessment is always a good idea!
- Music: Make a music center where students can go to listen to or create music.
- Fiddle: Create an area and keep something on hand so students can quietly fiddle if they finish early. Play-dough, fidget cubes, and Rubik’s cubes are great options for this.
- Journal: Give each student a journal and encourage them to invent, doodle, write, and get creative while they wait.
- Chat: Create a chatting area where students can move away from their desk and chat quietly.
- Online: Encourage students to go online and explore content or share what they’ve learned with other students at other schools or classes.
- Puzzle: Have some crosswords, word searches, and Sudokus on hand to keep students’ brains engaged in between lessons.
- Read: Students can choose a book ahead of time to keep in their desk and read independently while they wait for other students to finish working.
- Color: Likewise, students can also keep paper and crayons at their desks.
- Review: Have students write up a review for a book they’ve read or a movie they’ve seen. Let them print it out and display the reviews on a classroom bulletin board.
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