Brilliance! Get the Tools Ready First!

This may be old news – I have no idea – but for me, this simple tip just transformed my reading and writing workshops!  I went to a fantastic training last week, and I will be sharing many ideas that came from my experience.  Here is but one…

Have your students get their materials ready BEFORE coming to meet for the minilesson.  So simple, so smart.

Previously in my room we would finish morning meeting, I would send my kids to get a drink of water, and then we would meet together for our writing minilesson.  I would get them calm and focused, teach them something, and then send them off.  At which point they had to go and get their paper, folders, pencils, etc.  They had to wait in line, tie their shoes, navigate social interactions, sharpen their pencil….  You get the idea.  Finally they would sit down to write, probably having forgotten the minilesson all together.  And I had to wait around, waiting for them to manage all of this, so that I could start conferencing.

So we made one simple change.  Now, after we finish morning meeting, my kids still go and get a drink of water.  But then they go and get their tools ready.  They get their folder, paper, and pencil and set them on their desk, ready to go.  They check to see if they are finishing up an old piece, which they can set out, or if they need new paper.  Once the materials are organized, they come to the carpet.

This solves a few problems.  First, the madness of children milling around after drinks, waiting, kicking one another at the carpet, and wasting time is diminished.  They now have something productive to do, and so they are more focused.  Second, after the minilesson they go directly to work, with the idea fresh in their minds.  They can actually being working with what they were taught.  And finally, I can work with more kids because that waiting time for me is reduced as well.


The change was the same for us with reading workshop.  Now, after they come in from lunch recess they get a drink and get their book bag out.  They get their books out of the bag, place them on top of the bag at their independent reading spot, and then come to the carpet.  Once again, the benefits abound.

I am just amazed at how helpful this one simple tip has been.  What quick time saving ideas do you use to make your day flow?  Do you already have your kids get their tools out first?  Please tell me about your experiences!

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