October 1, 2011

Beginning with the End in Mind: Class To Do List

Whew!  Another week has come and gone and I have completely neglected my blog. Sorry! I have been so exhausted this week.  I tell ya... my fourth graders really take it out me.  We rock in the morning! Like, really, we're amazing.  It's impressive how productive and smart we are.

In fact, I totally have to brag on my class for a second.  Imagine a class sitting on the carpet for the beginning of a math lesson.  The teacher draws a rectangle on the board and writes 56 in the middle of the rectangle.  Then, writes 7 on the left side.  After the teacher draws the array, shes asks,"What does the number in the middle represent?" She gives the appropraite amount of wait time and then calls on a student.

Student 1: "It's the amount of squares in the array."
Teacher: "Good. Can anyone say it another way?"
Student 2: "It's the product."
Teacher: "Another way?"
Student 3: "It is a multiple of 7."
Teacher: "Wow, anyone else?"
Student 4 (who struggled in math last year): "It represents the area." 

Oh my gosh... TOUCHDOWN!  We haven't even talked about area yet this year, but she remembers from my class last year and our area and perimeter song.  Boo-yah! Where was my principal for that?!

See... we rock in the morning!

And then... 12:30 hits and they become a different class.  They can't stop talking, they can't sit in their chairs, they can't complete their work, and they start driving me a little bit crazy.  I started getting stressed out at how long things were taking and how little was actually getting accomplished.

I was expressing my frustration to a wonderful colleague of mine and she had the best idea.  She said, "Amanda, they're kids.  They don't have a list of things they need to get accomplished today in their head.  They're just at school. They don't know your list of "things that need to be done."  What good advice.

So, I created our class to do list. I make a list of everything we need to accomplish for the day including activities, lessons, worksheets, etc. At the beginning of the day, I go over the list with the class. We begin with end in mind.  As we complete things, kids check things off, which they love.

If we finish, we get extra time at the end of the day for a free choice activity.  I love this because kids see it as a way to earn time.  If we put first things first and complete our work, we get more time for fun class activities.

Now, we have only been doing this for a day, but it worked really well on a Friday, so I'm hopeful it will work everyday. I think the class likes knowing exactly what they need to accomplish for the day and they feel good about getting things done.  I've got my fingers crossed. 


  1. I love this idea!! I teach 5th grade and I think this could help them focus better!! I'm definitely going to try this next week!

  2. Great idea! I hope that this helps to keep your class focused so that they can rock all day. Also, I am curious if you wouldn't mind I would love to hear more about your area and perimeter song. I am new to teaching math to 3rd graders and am looking for anything and everything to help my kiddos!

  3. I have the same problem with my class! After lunch, I lose them and its a miracle if we get through science! I'm definitely going to try your idea!

  4. I have two groups of 4th graders. My homeroom group is wonderful and will work hard for me all day long. My other group is exactly like your kiddos after lunch all day long. So I am going to experiment with your idea with them and see if it helps me keep my sanity this year. I am thinking of breaking it down specifically for them during each block of time for math and science. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I feel so much better knowing that it is not just my class. Let me know how it goes ladies and if you come up with any other ideas, please share. :) ~Amanda

  6. Are you giving each student a copy of the list or making one for the whole group to check off?


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