Classroom Time Management

Classroom time management is more important than ever with the arrival of Common Core and the continuation of high stakes testing. We as teachers must look for creative ways to make every instructional minute count in order to make the best use of the time we have with our students.

One way to maximize this time is to engage students in aesthetic activities which will extend their memory tracks and increase the time they spend focusing. Music, dance, and art activities don’t have to take a lot of time, and they insure that students spend more time on task in the long run.

Time in the elementary grades must also be scheduled to work on coordination skills because of the link between physical coordination and reading.

There are other strategies for classroom time management which can help make the most of the time you have with your students. Here are some ideas for sixth grade math which can be adapted to other grade levels.

Look for connections and combine objectives.

By using a rectangle with decimal dimensions I am able to teach area and multiplication with decimals in the same problem. Using a formula to do so ( A=L x W ) and having students substitute values covers still another Common Core objective – that of evaluating expressions.

This is a more authentic way to learn decimal multiplication because it places it in a real world context.

Incorporate objectives into the regular schedule.

Typically I find that children are unfamiliar with metric measurements because they never use them. As much as my kids love our Star Wars sabers, it is hard for me to put the boring meter stick in rotation for our word wall games. I am doing it this year, though, because it gives us regular opportunities to talk about how many cm are in a meter, etc. It makes sense to me that my kids can really internalize how long these measurements are through our conversations and regular use.

Another objective I am integrating into our regular schedule is statistics. Whenever I am ready to give back a set of test papers, we first make a stem and leaf with our class’s scores. I never announce names but call out just the scores to fill in the “leaves” on the graph.

Before this year we have figured just the mean, median, mode, and range of the scores. But with the advent of Common Core standards, this year we are taking it a step further by creating a box plot each time, figuring the quartiles and interquartile range.

By making this a part of our regular routine, students will already be familiar with this new standard without my devoting time to a separate unit on the subject.

Students love graphing data that has something to do with them so I am always looking for opportunities to collect some. Daily attendance and/or lunch choices for the average class has just enough data to make a really good dot plot that will have meaning for students.

Utilize time after tests.

There is no better classroom time management technique than to plan quality activities to be completed after students complete a test. Two activities that are ideal for this “found” time are art projects and word wall activities.

Art Projects

Teaching math with art makes learning fun, and art serves as a vehicle for memory in learning key math terminology. Since they are completed independently, art projects are ideal for use after tests.

I create simple rubrics for each assignment so that students will know exactly what I am looking for, and I discuss the rubric beforehand so that they can begin as soon as they complete the test.

Some of our projects include:

  • Angle animals - Scroll to the bottom of the page to see some examples of student work. You will be amazed!
  • Properties of Math - More student work to amaze you is located in the right column where students have illustrated the commutative, associative, and distributive properties.
  • Arc Pictures - For this project students must use only arcs - no straight lines whatsoever. You will be surprised at the creativity this brings forth!

Arc Picture by 6th grade student

  • Trap-a-Zoid - I tell students that a "Zoid" is a mythical creature from another planet or galaxy and that they may only be captured by using a trap shaped like a trapezoid (to trap-a-zoid - get it?) On the back of their drawings they must write a paragraph in which they tell where the Zoid is from, what it eats and drinks, how to take care of it, and above all - what makes it mad!

Projects are almost always due in two weeks so students can learn some classroom time management of their own!

Word wall activities

Working with words from the math word wall is always time well spent. Our favorite activities to do after tests are:

  • Crossword puzzles - I create them online at Armored Penguin.
  • Word search puzzles - These may also be created at the Armored Penguin site by clicking here.
  • Scavenger hunts - These I make up myself using our current word wall.

Use the word wall for continuous review.

Reviewing math concepts previously taught is important in maintaining skills in the math classroom. Rather than taking time for lengthy reviews, I have found that word wall games are perfect for continuous review and efficient classroom time management. They save time in the long run and keep skills sharp.

Return Home from Classroom Time Management

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Tick Tock

With all this talk about Time Management, there are some things which we all must take the time to do:

  • Learn all we can about the brain. It is, after all, where learning takes place!
  • Build and use word walls. There is no better way for kids to learn vocabulary.
  • Have fun with our students. This lowers stress for everyone!
  • Incorporate art, music, dance, and drama in our teaching.
  • Consider the individual needs of our students.
  • Remember what it's like to be a kid.
  • Focus on the gifted-ness of every child.
  • Listen to our students. They all have stories to tell.

and from Dr. Mengert

  • Recognize that the acquisition of knowledge is dependent on the sensory system of the child.

Teachers should always make the time to __________

How would you complete this sentence?

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