Writing Time 4/9/18
It’s something all teachers have experienced: you’ve planned an engaging and differentiated activity for your class, but you soon hear, ‘What do I do when I’m finished?’
Fast finishers can be a challenge for every teacher. No matter how well prepared you are, they seem to fly through their work and before you know it they’re asking for more (which is a good thing!).
The purpose of activities for fast finishers is for students to remain engaged, not just busy. There is little incentive for students to complete their work efficiently when they are just given more of the same once they’re finished. To keep students engaged, the activities need to be meaningful, interesting and manageable.
Try one of these ideas the next time you hear, ‘I’m finished! What can I do now?’
The benefits of drawing, including tracing and creating patterns, cross over into other aspects of literacy, particularly writing. Research has shown that drawing is an effective strategy for teaching writing, and that learning is ‘most powerful’ when the semiotic systems are used together1.
Why not give your fast finishers a chance to hone these skills by doing some creative art activities? The Writing Time Student Practice Books contain beautifully illustrated, full-page art activities that include the slants, slopes and loops needed for letter formation. The art activities include patterns, mazes, dot-to-dots, symmetry drawings and colour by numbers.
Ask students to add intricate designs to their art and turn their work into a masterpiece – they won’t even realise they’re practising handwriting!
Creative writing prompts are a fun way to challenge students’ imagination and get them excited about handwriting. All your fast finishers need is an active imagination and a free Blank Lines worksheet available from Writing Time Online. Here are a few creative writing prompts to get you started:
You could also ask older students to reflect on their learning, whether it’s handwriting or another discipline. Get them to write about what they’ve learnt, something they found difficult or an aspect they enjoyed. It’s a great way to encourage meta learning among your students.
Students love to race against the clock. Why not give your fast finishers a competitive challenge that focuses on speed and legibility? Print free Blank Lines worksheets from Writing Time Online and task students with transcribing a dictation passage from a spelling lesson – remind them it has to be fast, accurate and neat. Have them record their time and see if they can achieve a personal best.
Research suggests that when students write with speed and aren’t labouring over letter formation, it frees up their brains to better focus on the task at hand2.
Writing Time is the perfect solution for keeping your fast finishers engaged. It features additional activities strategically designed to challenge students. So next time you hear the words ‘I’m finished! What can I do now?’, you’ll know exactly what to do.
As the year winds down and the holiday season beckons, students can become very restless — and they’re not the only ones! Why not use this as an opportunity to tie up some loose ends and have your students go…