I don’t know about you, but all my favorite tools and gadgets are the ones that can be classified as double-duty. The pressure cooker that is also a slow cooker. The flat iron that also gives my hair beach waves on the days I am feeling sassy. The fluffy ottoman in my living room that also serves as a coffee table. This is true for two reasons…
First, things that serve more than one role are EFFICIENT! They provide more while requiring less. More function and less space. More options and less hassle.
Secondly, I think I am getting a bargain! Serving two purposes with one purchase–that is the definition of “value-added”.
As teachers we also need to fill our world with double-duty tools. We have limited time, limited space, and limited budgets. Anything that is going to use up our limited resources, should serve more than one purpose. So here are three tips for getting double the function out of things you’re already doing in the classroom.
- Look at the traffic patterns in your classroom. Where are kids moving to repeatedly during the day? The trash can? The kleenex box? The pencil sharpener. Next to each one of the high-traffic locations in your room, post a review question for upcoming standardized tests along with pieces of scrap paper. Have students record their answers throughout the week and place them in a box next to the question. Draw one at the end of each week as a chance for whole-group review and to give recognition or reward to the students who participated.
- Use the small group teacher table for teaching, assessing, and reteaching. It’s tempting to bring a small group to your table for a quick mini-lesson and then send them back to their seats for independent work. But your teacher table can become a double-duty powerhouse, if you let students work on an assignment while they are still with you. This allows you to keep students focused, intervene once you see small mistakes, and reteach before students have incorrectly practiced for a whole assignment. The biggest double-duty advantage is that you can grade the paper right there on the spot…no taking that stack of papers home!
- Spend your limited resource dollars on activities that can check multiple to-do’s off of your lesson plans. Cooperative learning items are great for this because they allow you to work on academic skills and social skills at the same time. Writing activities that incorporate social studies allow you to hit skills for both subjects while using less time (and grading) in the process. And my favorite…holiday activities that incorporate the celebration of the holidays while working on academic skills at the same time. Here is just one example:
Your kids need to practice math skills. They are also expecting to make a cute valentine exchange box. Why not do both? Curious Classroom Adventures has one of these available for a variety of the most popular math skills in 2nd-6th grade.
What are your favorite double-duty finds? I am always looking to add to my collection!