Do you dread having early finishers in your 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade classroom? Every classroom has them. Keeping early finishers engaged and challenged can be difficult for new, as well as experienced, teachers. They can bring mayhem into your classroom if they don’t have targeted extensions. Read on to find out how to “tame the speedsters” (a.k.a. early finishers) in your classroom and also control the math extension beast.
PLANNING FOR EARLY FINISHERS
I thoroughly planned my math lesson. It was hands-on with a terrific recording sheet and reflection page. I even thought of a “bonus question” for my early finishers.
So, I was ready for the speedsters this time.
I explained and modeled the assignment. Then, I pulled my first small group while one group was doing the independent assignment I had so thoughtfully planned and as my third group was working at stations.
I monitored frequently to make sure all students were on task and working. Five minutes. Eight minutes. Ten minutes. And then…”I’m Done!” Ugh!
Early finishers – Again!
Does this sound all too familiar? I needed an early finisher “stash” in addition to daily assignments.
I NEEDED MORE FOR MY EARLY FINISHERS
More tasks that would keep my early finishers engaged and challenged.
After learning the hard way that you just must have an early finisher “stash”, I began creating challenges that my teammates and I could use to keep those eager minds learning. I created challenges that were targeted to problem-solving and not just fluff. Challenges that required using mental math. And, challenges that were engaging enough to prevent off-task behaviors.
As a result, the early finisher tasks were so successful in our classrooms, that I want to share them with you, too.
EARLY FINISHERs CHALLENGES
These tasks will raise the rigor and give you the completed models you need for having your students create your “stash” of challenges. We usually print them out and laminate them so students can write directly on them. However, if we want a record of their thinking, students work in their math notebook. But, we keep it simple and easy to manage.
This first early finisher activity focuses on number sense and the guess and check strategy. It helps students make connections to prior learning and lets them know that they will continue using what they’ve learned.
Students enjoy using the guess and check strategy because it helps them see that a wrong answer is not a bad thing! A wrong answer is something to learn from and find a better answer. And, it helps them feel safe to try new ideas and solutions.
A wrong answer can be powerful when used to enrich thinking.
APPLYING SKILLS IN EXTENSIONS FOR YOUR EARLY FINISHERS
Not just our early finishers, but all of our kids L-O-V-E these “algebra” activities included in the resource below.
They have to apply what they know about facts, and then, guess and check to find the exact numbers that will work for each letter. There is so much great mathematical thinking in these as well as great fun.
When students complete a challenge, it makes them feel math smart. They just know that they “can do it”. And that’s wonderful because it helps to build their math confidence which helps to build perseverance in solving problems. And that helps with mathematical attitudes. It’s an all-around win!
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