The four words no teacher wants to hear: “I’m done! Now what?” I don’t know about you, but those words make me shutter and I can feel the stress rise at the utterance of them. Why? Well, I want my students engaged and learning during class time. If they have finished our assignment, then they are taskless. And . . . I know that many students are still working. I want these students to have the time they need to thoughtfully complete the activity in an environment that is conducive to learning. And so there it is – the balancing act of early finishers.
The Early Finisher Challenge . . .
For years I have tried different approaches to early finishers. I have had teacher disappointment after disappointment in my search for keeping those early finishers engaged and challenged without just giving them more work. I’ve brainstormed with other teachers and I’ve scoured Pinterest, but I didn’t find anything that worked for me.
So many things felt more like a punishment, an extra assignment for finishing quickly. That’s not what I wanted. Others felt like busy-work or a ‘keep yourself occupied’ approach, and that was not what I wanted either. I wanted more for my students. I wanted to challenge them and engage them. Then it came to me . . .
What if I come up with an option that contains a variety of activities that a student can choose from? That was promising. I decided that the activities would be easy to return to at a later time because there was a good chance they wouldn’t finish in one sitting. I also wanted activities that would connect real-world skills to concepts we are learning in the classroom. This was the beginning of the Early Finisher Choice Board.
What is a Choice Board?
A choice board is a bingo-like page with a variety of different activities that students can complete independently. The idea is that students choose anything off the list to work on after they have finished their assignment.
As I was creating these Early Finisher Choice Boards, I focused on tasks that would allow students to use creative thinking, logic, and analysis while connecting to skills and concepts we have worked on in class. The end result was a hit!
How To Use Choice Boards for Early Finishers
As with almost everything in the classroom, it is important to have procedures in place for how the choice boards will be used. The key to implementing choice boards in the classroom is to make it easy for the students to complete the tasks independently. This means they need to know where the Choice Board is located, where to find the supplies and where to work.
In my classroom, each student had a copy of the choice board that they kept in a folder. This way they could pull it out whenever they were done with an assignment and immediately start on the choice board. I know other teachers who create a Choice Board area in the classroom. They Choice Board is on a wall or bulletin board and all the supplies a student could need are there too. There is no right or wrong way, it is about making the procedures work for your classroom.
Give Early Finisher Choice Boards a Try!
I love these so much and am excited to share them with you. I saw my students flourish when using the choice boards. They learned to work independently and confidently. I saw levels of creative thinking, analysis and application that showed that they were learning and mastering important concepts. It was a WIN, for sure!
Grab your free choice boards today and put an end to the early finisher challenge in your classroom.
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