Here come the lazy days of summer after the crazy days in the classroom. That means it is a great time to reflect on what worked and what did not. I know I would often feel guilty that we didn't accomplish more during the school year. One easy way to get more teaching done on a daily basis is by maximizing instructional time during the many transitions that occur during a school day.
Have you ever stopped to count how many times your students transition on any given day? Going to lunch, walking to specials, waiting while everyone washes their hands - the list is long. Taking it a step further, attach a number of minutes to each transition, add them all up and I'll guarantee your students spend an hour or more a day moving from one activity to another. If this time is not used for instruction, that equals a lost hour of opportunity for learning every day!
Fortunately, making those minutes matter is easier than you may think. Let's say I am walking my students out for dismissal at the end of the day. I can spend those five minutes reminding everyone to keep their eyes on me, hands to self and voices off, or we can sing "Wee Willie Winkie" to practice some early literacy skills. The title of the song is the perfect example of alliteration and "lock" and "clock" remind us of some rhyming words. I could talk about what the word "rapping" means and even add a knocking action to help solidify its definition. "Nightgown", "upstairs" and "downstairs" can lead to a quick review of compound words.
In addition to literacy, nursery rhymes and finger plays can give us a lot of bang for our educational buck. Almost all of them follow a sequence or pattern, a concept needed for developing early math skills. Just manipulating and isolating individual fingers to act out a poem is helping to develop fine motor skills. "I brought my magic kazoo today. Can you guess what song I am playing?" As I hum the tune of any well-known children's song on my imaginary kazoo, I am giving students an opportunity to hone listening skills needed for phonological awareness development. The examples are endless.
Planning transitions and being purposeful in our choice of activity will lead us to automatically embed many academic skills we are working on with our students. Set a goal for yourself to include more transition activities and to be intentional in their use. Doing this will increase instructional time and decrease lost learning opportunities for your students.