Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A sense of timing

You know how sometimes kids will take FOREVER to do something as basic as drawing a straight line or choosing a piece of colored paper or writing their name or...? Well, in my room I use a 10 second countdown to speed things along.

For instance, this past week we were labeling our printing papers with basic info: first name, last name, class number & registration number. I had already gone over directions & demonstrated info placement on the white board so as soon as students had the necessary ingredients (paper & pencil) I began my countdown. Now between you and me, the countdown is not exactly 10 seconds - just a s-l-o-w ten count.

I also use the countdown when we do our assessment step-by-step drawings. With the added time limit, students quickly make their marks on the paper so as not to fall behind. As they've learned through experience, there will always be sufficient time to go back and make changes later along with the creative touches that make it their own. Most kids need an incentive to get past their fear of seeing that clean, white sheet of paper and put the pedal to the metal...

The countdown gets everyone to focus & get the job done - even my worst ADHD kids! With time so precious in a 45 minute class, why waste time on anything that doesn't require creative thought?!

Another indispensable tool is my timer. It has a magnet on the back so I can stick it to my white board and a clip so I can attach it to my apron if I prefer. I can set minutes or seconds - it counts down and has an annoyingly piercing beep when it goes off. I use it to time cleanup at the end of Open Studio (if tables aren't clean by sound of beep, those students may not attend the rest of the week). Whenever I use it, the room is clean with time to spare.

It is also used to remind me to begin cleanup during those classes when there are several things going on at once. The beep signals me to gather the table helpers for cleanup instructions so class can be dismissed on time.

Nothing like a good sense of timing to keep things on track...

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