When you have a big chunk of free time...

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Backroads, May 21, 2015.

  1. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    May 21, 2015

    So I have an hour of planning time every day while my students are in specials. However, today totally threw me off when a substitute got confused, infiltrated my specials classes before me, and desperately begged to be able to take the time to give herself a breather.

    I sympathized and let her have the hour, but it left me throwing together an activity for my ids at literally 5 minutes after I should have had one completely planned. I managed!

    What do you do when you have those last-minute must-throw-something-together?
     
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  3. ktdclark

    ktdclark Comrade

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    May 21, 2015

    I am still still stuck on the fact that you get an hour a day to plan!!! We have NO specials at my school so throwing things together happens quite frequently if I don't prepare before, during, and after class...
     
  4. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    May 21, 2015

    I take kids outside, get out board games, or show a movie when I have students at a time when I shouldn't (like a cancelled special). I do not plan an extra activity, nor do I actively teach - I use the time to plan or grade papers as usual.

    We also get about an hour of prep time a day. I think it's state law.
     
  5. OneBerry

    OneBerry Comrade

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    May 21, 2015

    I get out the mini whiteboards and do some variation of a game that has the kids solve math problems, pull out the inflatable die and Brain Quest decks for a round of dice trivia challenge, or if we have access to technology then maybe a Planet Earth episode or a round of Kahoot!
     
  6. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    How do you play dice trivia? That sounds fun.
     
  7. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    May 21, 2015

    I'm not really understanding what happened with the sub?
     
  8. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    May 22, 2015

    At least this year, I've always needed more time for something (more writing/conferencing, opportunities for ind practice in math, or on a sci/as project), so I sort of embrace the time. Since I already feel stretched thin with how much instructional time we have a week...getting an extra half an hour occasionally is nice. Plus, we get paid for the missed time.
     
  9. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    May 22, 2015

    Some of our specials are divided into two half-hour classes. She misread the times and took her kids to specials at the wrong time--when my class was schedules.

    Thanks for all these extra ideas! I would up yanking out my construction paper scraps for an art project. And then we dejunked the classroom for the end of the year.

    And, yes, once they were busy, I did the stuff I intended to do during the planning hour!

    We aren't required to have a solid hour a day, though our state requires so much time. Technically, we get the same planning we always did, but it's in nice big chunks of time and everyone loves it (it's new this year). The teachers can really get work done, the specials teachers can really focus on their classes... win-win.
     
  10. Rox

    Rox Cohort

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    May 22, 2015

    If this is in California, what law is it????? I'd love to know!
     
  11. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    Nevada... sorry! :hugs:
     
  12. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    May 22, 2015

    Usually your union would have to negotiate that with the district in California. I'm always surprised by the variation in working conditions in CA because every district has their own union. (some better than others)

    My bf was very surprised that we didn't have a "state" union.
     
  13. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    May 22, 2015

    I'm surprised the specials teacher didn't say something...:dizzy:

    No way I'd give up my prep. I'd inform the sub of the special schedule...could be the teacher she's covering misplanned, but that shouldn't impact your day.
     
  14. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    May 23, 2015

    Definitely NOT in California. From what I've seen on here, elementary teachers in CA have about the least amount of prep time of anyone, anywhere.

    I can't even imagine what it would be like to have an hour a day...

    Next year we get 2 one hour blocks a week, and both teachers on the grade level get it together. I am seriously THRILLED. It's the most prep time I've ever had. For one of those blocks, the kids are in my room, but the other they'll be somewhere else. The irony is that I'm at a charter (so I'm not in the union), but when I student taught at public schools where the teachers were definitely part of the union, the teachers had literally no prep time.

    As for last minute activities, before teaching, I worked in day camps and after school programs, so I can throw together an activity in a few minutes because I had a lot of practice.

    Some ideas:
    -team building - give each team limited supplies (paper, straws, cups, whatever you can find) and have them build the tallest tower, the strongest bridge, etc. You can do the tower one with just paper.
    - Have the kids create a poster in teams to reinforce a recently taught concept. Present the posters.
    - Have the kids create a song in teams to perform about a particular topic. I did this once this year with PEMDAS.
    - Independent reading time! Always valuable.
    - Activities to go with the current read aloud. Have the kids write a letter to one of the characters, etc.
    - Quick writes. Set the timer for 3 minutes and give the kids a random topic - socks. tacos. the playground. etc. Have them write whatever they can think of for the whole time. Count words at the end. Share. Do this several times.
    - Math stations. Sometimes I'll just give extra time for that.
    - Show a thought provoking Youtube video (Kid President has great ones, or their are youth TED talks for older elementary and up) and have the kids write their responses on post its. Or use padlet if you have the tech. Share ideas with the class. Discussion.
    - Have them play a group story game where they write one sentence, pass it to the next person to write the next sentence, on and on until they get their original story back. Hilarity ensues. Could also do orally in a circle.

    Thanks, this was a helpful exercise. I want to do or revisit some of this in our last 14 days of school. ;)
     
  15. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    May 23, 2015

    She did, but ultimately let the two of us work it out ( she let me know her open times and rescheduled as the kids love this class).

    In everyone's defense, it was a crazy day. Another specials teacher was sick that day and it was a crazy field trip day which meant lots of subs and none leftover to cover the sick teacher's specials class which meant it was canceled and that probably contributed to the sub's confusion. The teacher who let us reschedule also had reason to suspect my class "might" be out as half the 2nd grade was out on a field trip (grade split up and we went the day before).

    Anywho, yeah, it was a nutty day and I guess I felt bad for the sub.
     
  16. ktdclark

    ktdclark Comrade

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    May 23, 2015

    Ironically, our new SUP is cutting afternoon recess for the 1-3 grades next year and mandating that we all teach 20 min of PE a day. (Don't get me started on how wrong it is to take away what little time kids have for free play).

    So my awesome second grade team is already planning on rotating teaching PE every day (with 10 minutes of "free" choice play). That way we will all get a good half hour once a week of planning time as our students will be with one of the other second grade teachers.

    Gotta be creative here in California!
     
  17. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    May 23, 2015

    If I had an unexpected hour I'd do a long read aloud. Then I'd do those things that always seem to fall to the wayside - handwriting practice, whiteboard math, choice centers, extra word work time or a Discovery Education video.
     
  18. OwlTeach

    OwlTeach Rookie

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    May 24, 2015

    I have this problem all of the time. I work at an art school, so the students do not all go to the same teacher during specials. Performances and field trips for the kids in particular specials make the schedule wacky at times.
    I keep a selection of worksheet packets for the class that focus on a skill I do not get to spend enough time covering. Examples are phonics, cursive, word parts, writing, and review.
    Our math teacher does something similar with math skills.
     
  19. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    May 24, 2015

    We are required by law to get planning each day. The elementary teachers get an hour a day. If we have lunch off..we get an extra 45 minutes a day. That happens every third week.
     
  20. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I always keep three "emergency" read-aloud picture books, a couple team-builder activities, and a couple math fluency games at the ready, whenever my schedule suddenly changes and I find myself with children at a time when I had not planned on having children. I keep the same read-aloud books and team builders ready to go from year to year. They are in the file on my desk titled SOS. I've been fortunate this year and haven't needed anything from that file, but the last month of school is always good for a couple whoopsy schedule changes.
     
  21. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Also, not gonna lie... I'm a big fan of "Independent reading time!" as a filler whenever I need time to set up for a lesson (usually whenever an administrator sucks up my entire planning time which is RIGHT BEFORE SCIENCE I NEED TO GET PREPPED FOR MY SCIENCE EXPERIMENT AHHHHHHHHHHHH).
     
  22. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Yes, I'm pretty certain this is true.

    I didn't even know what "specials" were until I joined the forum. That doesn't exist here in CA.
     
  23. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I find that to be absurd, bordering on offensive. Even putting aside the fact that most elementary teachers have no business teaching art, music, or PE, how are teachers supposed to actually do their jobs if they don't have time to do their jobs?
     
  24. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    I guess one can't miss something they've never had! :(
     
  25. ktdclark

    ktdclark Comrade

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    May 25, 2015


    I agree! But I have 20 years teaching in california and rarely have had "specials" at all....ya just get used to running around like a lunatic:)
     
  26. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    May 26, 2015

    Ooh... I like the idea of having a folder ready just for this situation.
     

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