Have you ever asked a 10-year-old to hurry up and do something? It’s hit or miss. Asking a class of 10-year-olds to hurry up and do something? Good luck! Since my students switch classes, I lose a lot of instructional time to transitioning. Let’s just say that fourth graders are definitely not known for their speed.
In September, students show up to class 5 minutes late, take 5 minutes to get homework handed in and settle into their seats, and then use up an additional 10 minutes to complete their Do Now assignments. I’m not a math teacher, but losing 20 minutes from an 80 minute block still seems like a lot – And it is.
It took a lot of brainstorming followed by quite a bit of trial and error, but I finally found a way to get my kids to book it into the classroom, rush to get started, and produce quality work in a short period of time. Like most of the ah-ha moments I have that lead to ideas for the classroom, the answer was so simple that I kicked myself for not thinking of it sooner. Music! I’d used it all the time when I taught pre-k, but hadn’t brought it into my middle school classroom.
Straight to the point: Below is the song that I use. I think it’s important to choose a song without words so the students aren’t distracted by lyrics. I turn the song on as the students are walking in the room.
The rules are that we must be able to clearly hear the music at all times (otherwise they are being too noisy) and by the time the song is finished, the following must be accomplished:
- Homework handed in
- Students settled at their seats
- Do Nows completed
What was taking 20 minutes at the beginning of the year now takes less than 6 minutes! If you consistently use the same song, students begin to develop their own time management skills and estimate how much time they have left based on the part of the song they are hearing. Add the incentive of using some of those minutes you gain back to play a closure game and your student buy-in will increase immediately. A simple solution with a priceless reward: More instructional time. Enjoy it!