Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Fast Finishers!

"TEACHER!  I'm done!" 
Those words, to me, are the equivalent of someone scraping their nails down a chalkboard!  AAAGH!  Can't stand it!
Hey Y'all!  I'm Karen from An Apple a Day in First Grade.  I'm here to show you how to fix that problem using "Fast Finishers."  I know that this isn't anything new to most of you, but for me it was something that I finally had to try.  And boy am I glad I did.  So today, I'm here to share with you this Back 2 School trick.
When I got serious and started thinking about the whole Fast Finisher idea, I knew first of all that I needed something that would be easy to put together and something that would definitely be easy for the children to manage on their own.  I started by looking around my room and thinking about what my kids liked to do.  Things like drawing, writing, free reading time, and working with their whiteboards came to mind.  I also took into consideration some things that we did weekly in class that could easily be added into the Fast Finisher menu.  Things like reading the words on their word ring, reading their fluency folder, working on their number scrolls, and reading from one of their textbooks.  These ideas were a great place to start and I knew they were all manageable for me and my kiddos.
I wanted to post these options for my kids to see visually, so I created a space on our whiteboard to display the choices.  I don't have a "theme" in my class.  I use the Dots on Turquoise pattern by Creative Teaching Press.  I love the colors in this set so that's what I have gone with the past couple of years.  I found some really cute graphics by Ashley Hughes that had all of the colors that I needed to create our "Fast Finisher" menu with and set to work to create something that would be functional and easy to use.  I printed, laminated, and posted the new menu.  It caught my kids attention quickly and they were all very interested in what this whole "Fast Finisher" thing was all about.

(FYI-This is a mock up of what my board looked like.  I couldn't find any pictures of it from this past year.)
During our morning meeting time, I began the task of teaching my students how and when to use the menu.  I explained the choices that I had on the board, showed them where to find the materials (most of which were in their own desk!), and then how to go about completing their menu choice.  I did this just about every day the first week that I implemented the menu.  Friends, in order for this to work, you have to MODEL, MODEL, MODEL, and then MODEL some more.  Within no time, my students were pros at using the menu and I no longer had to hear those dreaded words.  In fact, I told my class that I absolutely, positively DID NOT want to hear those words spoken in our class anymore. 
Here's a little bit of advice:  to begin with, I would only offer a few choices.  As the year progresses, you can then add more as you see fit.  You know your class and what works best for them.  You may even want to take a class vote to see what they would like to have as Fast Finisher Choices!  This year I have a new menu choice that I am going to offer up to my kiddos once we have gotten into the swing of things.  I have a fabulous product that I created last year called Grab a Book and Take a Look!
This product is full of response sheets that match a variety of CCSS. 
I really want my students to be active readers and writers this year.  I really want them connecting with fiction and nonfiction text.  I want them to do just what the title of the product says, "Grab a Book and Take a Look" inside.  And that's exactly why I plan on using this as a menu choice.  Managing this will be easy.  My plan is to pick a few response sheet choices to start with and then change them out as my student's needs change.
Setting this up:
1.  Pick a few response sheets that match standards we have worked with in class.
2. Make multiple copies of each sheet.
3.  Place each set of response sheets in page protectors.
4.  Place the page protectors in a binder with the cover of the product in front.
5.  House the binder in an area of the room that the students will be able to access without disrupting others around them.

Easy enough. 
 Again, I plan on modeling the expectation for this menu choice.  I'm going to hold my students accountable for completing the response sheets by having them turn them in to me.  I won't grade them, but I do want to see their "thinking."
To help you get thinking about using a "Fast Finisher" menu in your own class, I have put together an editable file for you.  Everyone has their own color schemes in their room so I kept this file black and white.  You can print it on whatever color cardstock matches your own room.  I included some of the  choices that I use in my own room. And, I also included several pages that are editable so that you can add your own.  You will need the font KG Lego House installed on your computer for this product.  You can find it here.   I of course included a choice for Grab a Book and Take a Look!  You can grab that freebie here.
Would you like a chance to win my packet?! 
Enter the rafflecopter below and you may walk away with this fabulous packet that you can use with your class this year! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
 Need more tricks for B2S?  Check out all of the other posts in this series that started on August 1.  You can click here to head to the very first one.  You don't want to miss out on all of the great ideas my fellow bloggers have shared!  And, come back tomorrow for another chance to win some FABULOUS clipart sets by the wonderful Krista Walden of Creative Clips!!!!!!
Hope you have a great start to your new school year and that your bag is full of tricks to make it the best one yet!


  1. I use several resources for reading response. Different types of worksheets, projects and more!

  2. I found a reading response menu which I really like because it's very student centered. But sometimes I will have then do a specific response based on the comprehension strategy we are practicing together.

  3. My students are also required to do a nightly response to reading for homework. There I provided them with several sentence stems to use such as this reminds me of... this happened to me when.. and things like that

  4. I use graphic organizers, have them create posters, interactive notebooks and task cards. I have also used graffiti boards, Save the Last Word for Me and just writing responses on sticky notes.