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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Every Minute Counts

Do you believe that every minute counts?  I have found some of the best ways to enhance instruction that anyone can do.  All of the resources I will talk about in this post, you already have or can be made with common items found in your classroom.  And... Time is not a factor.  Do you want in on my little secret?  (I am sure most of you already do this anyway.)
Begin your school day by welcoming students at your door.  I always greet my students with interesting words to increase their vocabulary and introduce them to new words.  For example, if a student is smiling I may say, "You look very delightful today."  If a student has on new shoes I may say, "Your new shoes look very comfortable."  Not only do students need the initial positive communication, but children are being exposed to interesting vocabulary.  You do not need any resources for vocabulary exposure.  However, you may start your morning meeting by revisiting some of the words.  I like to use large chart paper for my morning message.  I often include interesting words in my morning message.

I have an Enfamil can from several years ago that I use when we travel to and from special classes.  I have skills that need to be reviewed.  I call my review can "Locked Out".  I tell my students that we are "locked out" and can't move on until we answer correctly.  Sometimes I do it whole group and other times I do them individually.  Currently, there are math facts that my kindergarten students review.  I just pull a card and students tell me the answer.  Math facts, sight words, and nonsense words are the most frequently reviewed skills that I use.  So don't throw away that empty can or basket.  Use it to review skills at bathroom breaks, standing in lunch line, and even lining up for dismissal.
Right next to my teacher chair, I have several "go to" books.  Students need to be read to.  I read many 'just because' read alouds to my students.  I read just so my students can hear what reading sounds like.  I read to model fluency.  I read to emphasize voice.  I read just because!
The fourth way to enhance instruction in your classroom is to communicate with students and parents.  Do you have a classroom newsletter?  Do you send home updated word wall sheets, behavior sheets, or family projects.  I have sent almost each monthly project this school year.  The projects increase parent involvement and are often used as part of our reading block.  It is just one more way to enhance academics and increase communication.  I purchased the packet called

Kindergarten Monthly Family Projects by Erin Eberhart Lynch.

Transitions are one of the easiest was to increase academics in the classroom.  At the beginning of the school year, we would walk from the rug to our seats counting by ones.  Now, I dismiss students from the rug to their seats by asking:
for words that rhyme,
the answer to a math fact,
what number is one more,
how many syllables are in a word,
and what they plan on writing about.
When we line up for dismissal I use rhymes.  I say the beginning of the rhyme and students give me a "thumb kiss" with the response.  I use Cara Carroll's Goodbye Rhymes.

These are not new ideas.  They are simple ideas that any teacher at any grade level can use to enhance every minute of the school day.  What do you do to enhance instruction?  Can you use any of these ideas in your classroom?  No matter what you do or what resources you use, make every minute count!


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