Anchor Activities for Free Time

I survived the first day of school unscathed! I still have three more of my classes tomorrow but it feels good to have the first day under my belt. I honestly can’t remember being more excited and enthusiastic about beginning the year. I guess it’s because for the first time, this isn’t the first year at a new school for me. This is my sixth year of teaching and every single year but this I’ve had to change schools or districts. It was the most underwhelming beginning of the year I’ve ever had- and it was fabulous.

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Calm before the storm

Our kids are receiving 1:1 I-pads TONIGHT and I’ve been busy googling and pinteresting away at all the amazing things I will be able to do. It’s a lot to think about and I know I will start small, but it sure is exciting.

I have really been trying to reflect and make this year great by thinking about mistakes I made last year and how I can change that. I know that the first days of school are really important in setting a precedent and communicating expectations to students. I feel like I have always struggled a bit with classroom management a bit. I constantly think about how I can change and get better at it. Over the last school year I really noticed that having a well run classroom isn’t about being super strict or enforcing consequences or following a stringent rule plan like I read about my first year of teaching in Harry Wong’s book. It’s more about the atmosphere you create in the classroom. I think because this is the smallest school I’ve ever worked at…it’s really easy to gauge the atmosphere and overall ‘aura’ of the class and if the students are actually even listening to you, engaged and on the same page. I think this year instead of focusing so much on giving detentions and following a strict rule plan I will focus on creating a classroom atmosphere where the students feel motivated to do well because a) they like and respect me and b) they really are engaged in what they are doing so they don’t have time to act out. I think the I-pads will be a great launching pad (no pun intended) for this.

Last school year I was really frustrated about the amount of free time kids were given and them wasting it. My kids have a lot of study halls and fluff classes and it’s difficult to motivate them to do anything when there is no grade attached to it. When they claim to be “done” with their homework they have free time and start to act out. I started getting annoyed with this so I created this Anchor Activities requirement in my classroom. A quick Google search for anchor activities will explain what they are- basically activities that students have to complete when they are “done” with the day’s work to prevent idle down time. They are also great for differentiation when you have some kids who finish first and are just sitting around. This will work well in my inclusion classes where I have a range of abilities. I made up 8-10 activities like making flash cards, spelling lists, creative writing prompts, class journals, free rice and Brain Pop. Each activity is worth a certain number of points and students have to get 50 points a marking period.

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Required is their AR (independent reading) quiz and they have to read at least one book per marking period. anchor2   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m explaining the program to students next class. I really want it to go well and help fill up time of students who finish activities early and are just sitting around wasting time. Maybe it will even encourage them to try harder and put more effort into things instead of just rushing to get it done.

 

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Whole Class journals students can write in and respond to others in
 

 

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I’m really looking forward to this year and trying to enjoy every minute of this exciting back to school time!!! I’ve really never felt this not busy to be actually excited and looking forward to the year! It’s a great feeling.

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2 thoughts on “Anchor Activities for Free Time

  1. Eating 4 Balance

    AR… Accelerated reader, right? I have so many mixed feelings over those quizzes. I always felt forced to read books with a lot of points even if they weren’t necessarily ones that I enjoyed. It did push me out of my usual reads though with books like A Little Princess, which, if I remember correctly, was one of the high point books. It became a little competition in my 7th grade class to see who could get the most points. I think my teacher gave us extra credit for however many points we went over the required amount.

    Another thing that bothered me a little bit was that some kids in my class were good at “faking” the quizzes. They watched the movie and got 100% on the quiz. Not. Fair. At. All. (Can you tell I don’t let go of grudges easily? 😉 )

    I like your rule of just having to read one book per period and not being super strict on what kind of book it is! 🙂

  2. Andrea @Pencils and Pancakes

    Yeah I really am not a fan of the whole AR thing…The only reason I do it is because the kids see it as (kind of) a motivator to read books. What I discovered last year though is that the kids who read in their free time…are going to read regardless of AR quizzes. My only hope is to get the ones that aren’t that much into reading feel like they have a reason TO read. Otherwise they won’t do it. But last year requiring two, I did notice kids would scramble the day before it was due….asking friends to do quizzes for them or trying to do one that they’ve seen the movie on….so that’s pointless. That’s why I reduced the requirement. At least now the ones that are on the fence about reading still feel like they “have” to at least read a book.

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