Most teachers recognise the need to give early finishers something to do – something to keep them from being bored; something that will keep them from disrupting or distracting the rest of the class; What makes an ideal activity for fast finishers, especially when this happens during a test??
Generally speaking, when it comes to early finishers in class , I usually ask them to do what most teachers usually ask students to do:
4. Unfinished work
6. Research Projects
7. Vocabulary Detective (search out cool words in the dictionary, fill out form and have the option of sharing with a friend)
8. Clean your desk- organise your portfolio
9. Invent a game
10. Write a story/letter etc
BUT, when it comes to early finishers during a test…well, that’s another story!
I have an “I’m ALL done shelf” set up in my class room. It’s a small book shelf (two shelves) that is stocked with things to do after they finish their test. There are books (in a basket), Coloring pages, souvenirs from London, magazines, etc
This shelf is found at our ” English corner”, which basically consists of a space in the corner of the classroom with the appropriate materials placed on a shelf , within easy reach of pupils at any stage of the class. Games and books are arranged so they are clearly visible, each having their own identifiable place so that pupils know where to find them and put them back. More are added during the year to motivate pupils with new resources. If you have your own English classroom like I do , English corners are very easy to set up because all you need are the materials and the space.
If not, maybe you could come to an arrangement with the class teachers to create a similar space in the children’s own classrooms.This is what I used to do in the past….This need not imply extra work on your part, as there will be enough materials to go round all the classrooms in the year group; books and activities can be swapped around at the beginning of each term, providing pupils with regular new resources. Many materials will be flexible and usable in different contexts. For example, a set of dominoes designed for learning colours will be used mainly with our Year 1 pupils, but we may also find them useful if we have a student with learning difficulties in Year 3.
I always make sure that I buy lots of souvenirs from all my trips in english speaking countries which I add to my class collection and share with ther students! Our activity corner also contains materials such as postcards, memory games, puzzles, motivating worksheets , matching games, brick games and board games.
Students should understand the importance of working quietly, so as not to disturb the rest of the class that is busy with another activity or a test.
This may not happen overnight, as this way of working is likely to be new to them and they will need time to adjust.But once they’ve experienced and appreciated the benefits of it, you should see a marked improvement. Last but not least, never underestimate the importance of having your students listen to classical music during tests! My students find it really relaxing and have come to appreciate it more over the years , even the ones who have never listened to classical music before!!