As I mentioned in last week's post, the brain likes clean beginnings and clean endings. In the video you had a chance to see all the organized enthusiasm that begins a typical day in Studio 24. This week we will take a look at how you can successfully wrap up a day of learning in ten minutes or less. This post contains a video demonstrating the fast-paced flow of the end of our school day.
Photo: Studio 24 students before heading inside for the Wrap It Up routine.
The brain can either pay attention or make meaning, but it does not do both simultaneously in an efficient manner at all. The purpose of an end of the day routine is to signal the brain that it is now time to start making meaning of everything that it learned during the day. The Wrap It Up segment in Studio 24 puts an exclamation mark on the day and allows the brain to shift into an after school frame of mind. Here is a breakdown of our Wrap It Up routine.
If you have trouble viewing the video, you may also check it out on YouTube.
Agenda Ten minutes before they are allowed to get their coats I go over the agenda from the day. Students write down in their personal agendas any homework they may have. On the board I write anything that needs to be included in their agenda. I like to initial each student's agenda to show that I looked to see if the essential information was written down. While I am quickly doing this, the students need something to do . . . enter Roses and Thorns. Note: I also have them rate how their personal day was in the agenda on a scale of one to ten. If a child rates their day as a six or less, then I am sure to follow up with them before they leave. See video above.
Mind Map We take a few minutes to update our weekly mind map with things we learned, events that occurred, or activities we completed throughout the day. A mind map is a visual representation of our week. I save all of these weekly mind maps for the last week of school. I place them around the room in chronological order. Then the students do a memory walk. With a little bit of Kodak commercial music in the background, you will often get some tears shed. Note: Tony and Barry Buzan have a book with tips on how to successfully mind map. See a close up example at the end of the video above.
Roses and Thorns Essentially, this is a modified, upper elementary version of Show and Tell, but it goes much faster. About six students get a chance to share a rose or thorn in the three minutes it takes me to get around the room to sign the agendas. I choose the first student and each student thereafter is chosen by the student who just got done sharing. A "rose" is something that went well for them that day. A "thorn" was something they didn't particularly care for. Photo of rose courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net.
Gems / Ops After I am done signing agendas, we reflect upon the day. I ask for three gems. Gems are things that went well for the class in terms of behavior or efficiency (example: We received a good report from Miss Gaughan, our art teacher.). After the three gems are given, I ask for three ops. "Ops" is short for "Opportunities for Improvement" (example: We could have been more focused during our social studies lesson.). See video above.
Whatcha Gonna Tell Yo Momma? I came up with this idea to combat the "nothing" answer to the age old question of "What did you learn in school today?" I ask for three specific items that we learned during our time together. They know they should remember at least one of these items to tell their mommas when they get home. See video above.
Rate the Day Finally we quantify our day with a number. A perfect ten means we had an awesome day in terms of focus, respect, responsibility, and efficiency. A zero means it was the worst day ever. Anything less than a six means privileges will be revoked on the following day of school . . . so be prepared! Initially, the students think every day is a perfect ten. After about a month, they tend to be pickier with a ten than I would be. Note: After the first month I do this segment in Spanish to keep it fresh and to reduce a bit of anxiety about middle school foreign language classes. I also use the phrase "quantify your day" because sneaking in the vocabulary word quantify makes them own the vocabulary word. See video above.
Off the Air We shut off the learning sign that we turned on at the beginning of the day.
C-Ya Dance With a little help from 'N Sync, we end our day with a dance choreographed to a portion of "Bye Bye Bye." See video above.
Favorite Game To help out the janitors we play our favorite game of "Stack Your Chairs!" See video above.
All that in ten minutes. Yes, it is a lot. Yes, it takes awhile to get into the groove. Don't attempt to teach the whole routine at once. Layer it!
For more tips on how to energize your classroom with routines and novelty throughout the day, I would suggest Classroom Activators by Dr. Jerry Evanski. He knows his brain research and lists many practical applications in his book.
What wrap up routines do you do in your classroom that you would like to share?
Definitely a wrap,