Save Yourself Some Merry Little Minutes

30 November 2014
I'm back with my favourite group of upper grade bloggers to share some of our time-saving secrets with you in hopes of helping you gain back some precious "merry little minutes" in the crazy busy upcoming month.  Let's face it, we can all use some extra minutes (or hours, or days) - especially in December.

These tips are not only good for the month of December, but all year long.

My time-saving tip is all about pre-made templates for lessons and routines that are often repeated in your classroom.  It saves time in so many ways - the template is already ready to go, no extra time in making up something.  After the initial time making the template, I just save it to my desktop so I can pull it up in a second without looking through my files for it.  The blank template is already saved so I just have to exit at the end of the lesson.  We're using the Smartboard (or whiteboard) together, so there are no handouts to pass out or collect.  Time saved during prep, before the lesson, and after the lesson.

math educationThis is a template I made for our daily number talks.  I had originally started doing our number talks in a notebook, with students copying down everything, but I soon realized we were all wasting valuable time writing everything down, and not as much time practising the actual skills - something that we needed to maximize in the short 10 minute daily number talk.  I made this template with the notebook software for the smartboard, but it could be just as quickly and easily made with powerpoint or even word.  All I needed to do was fill in a new question every day, and then we let the template take us through the rest of the lesson - each day using this same template.  You can't see in this picture, but at the bottom of this template I had an empty space where I would write extra questions (taken from the Number Talks book) where we could quickly practise the skills we learned in the lesson.

math educationThis is another quick and easy template I made for our Error Analysis minilessons.  We used this template 2 to 3 times a week, and it always stayed the same so I could pull it up quickly, analyze a common error I had seen in the lesson, and move on.  I made this one quickly in the notebook software, too.  I could pull up the screen in a minute (already saved to my desk top) and fill in the question and error - which often made for a timely teachable moment during independent or small group work.

I made this template on Dollar Words while we were reading Because of Mr. Terupt.  My students loved the idea of making dollar words, and I wanted to make it fun and easy.  I would pull up this template and they could add the words they figured out during the day (and they were constantly thinking of dollar words through the day while we were reading this book).  (It would make a great literacy station or indoor recess activity, too).

I also used these premade templates for some of our learning goals.  We were piloting the use of Surface tablets in my classroom last year, and had to document our technology learning goals each day.  I made a quick template with a tablet picture and title, and could quickly pull it up and change our learning goal each day.  I would project it while students were using the tablets each day.

Check out some more time-saving ideas and save yourself some merry little minutes this season.  Click on any of the blog buttons below to start your time-saving journey.  :)