In our classroom we have an early finisher system is called "Go For It!" When students finish an assignment early, they have the option to work on critical thinking activities from our "Go For It" bulletin board. Students collect a total of 6 activities in their "Go For It" folder before earning the opportunity to create something of their own design at our classroom MakerSpace! "Go For It" is a fun way to keep students thinking, creating, and engaged during classroom down time. Here's how it works in our class! (Click any of the activity pictures for a free download!)
Students will read our Spotlight book and complete a comprehension activity. The Spotlight book is a featured book that goes along with a current unit, an upcoming holiday, or a theme in our classroom. I start the year with the "Characters, Setting, Problem, Solution" sheet and switch to the "Retell" sheet around the mid-year point (to help students prepare for the DRA).
*Retell sheet is available at Talkin Pinata Teaching.
Think About It.
With these activities, students are challenged to think creatively. I begin the year with "Finish the Picture", around November I switch to "Shapes", and in the spring I switch to "Tangrams". With all of these activities, I challenge the students to add as much detail to their pictures and writing as they can to really make their thinking POP!
This is one of my favorite "Go For It" activities! The students can choose an informational book from our classroom library to research a topic of their choice. It is always so interesting to see what topic they choose and what information they are able to pull out of their book. This activity helps students practice using text features, locating information, and identifying the main idea. After researching their topic, students have the opportunity to share their findings with the class during our daily morning meeting (see a "Share It" option below!).
Story Board That is an online storyboard creator that you can use in your classroom in many different ways! It is free, easy to use, and allows students to publish their ideas in many different ways. Students can choose from a variety of templates, backgrounds, stickers, and speech bubbles to present their ideas. I have my students log in to my account to create their StoryBoard and save it as their name. During our morning meeting students they are able to share their findings with the class from the promethean board and I print them out a copy to take home. Check out this awesome student example!
*Click the picture to download an editable copy of the "Share It!" task card - Make sure you edit the "Where is it?" section as it applies to your desktop organization.
(Get it?!) Students are able plan their own STEM project, and it can be anything they want. I've had students design desk organizers, doll houses, pencil holders, gifts, and so many other awesome things! What I love about "Plan It" is that they are able to design a project that solves a problem that is relevant to them. Their designs may have absolutely no connection to classroom content or curriculum, but it has a personal connection to them and it's truly amazing to see the things they come up with!
Boggle is a great way for students to practice creating words using word families. Once they discover this trick they are amazed by how many words can be created with so few letters! I select a Boggle Board for the students to use and place it in a plastic sheet protector. I change the Boggle Board every so often (every other week or so) so that the students are able to start a fresh game if necessary.
About halfway through the year I switch from Boggle to Noggle. I place the Noggle board sheet in a plastic page protector with sticky notes covering all but one. Every so often (every other week or so) I shift the sticky notes so that a new board is showing. To create my Noggle board I "updated" a Boggle sheet...add an "N" over the "B" and change "words" to "number sentences" - voila!!!
Once students have collected one of each of the "Go For It" challenges they are allowed to go to the "Make It" station to build their design from "Plan It". This year I am including "Go For It" as one of my reading centers. That way every student has equal opportunity to make it to the "Make It" station. Students collect "Go For It" papers in the back pocket of their binders and bring their six challenges to me when they are complete.
I'd love to hear your early finisher ideas!
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