It seems to me that the days at school FLY by and even though I work through most recesses, and usually only grab 15 minutes for lunch, I was still ending up at school until 5:00 most nights.
Not that I didn't love being there (I do), but by the time I got home, cooked supper, watched a TV show or two, and read a couple of blogs I was worn out and ready for bed. I had no time left for healthy planning, exercise, keeping up with friends, social activities, or blogging. I was done.
One of the things I've done to try to rectify this situation is MARK LESS. It's taken me 20+ years to realize that I do not need to see everything that the kids in my class do, much less mark it. Most of what they do in Language Arts or Math centers is practice what they've previously learned (and I've seen and marked). When I set up the centers I put a cover sheet with the instructions in a sheet protector, back to back with the answer key so that they can mark their own when they've finished. When I first started doing this I thought there might be a problem with students who just copied the answers down instead of figuring out the answers for themselves. This actually rarely happened for two reasons:
1. Davey Do-Gooder and Watchful Wanda (every class has a couple) were quick to report that copying was taking place.
2. I made sure that the activities in the centers were about the right length for the time available (maybe even taking a wee bit longer than time available for most kids). Then if somebody was done a center in 5 minutes when it should take 20 to 30 I would know right away. They didn't usually try it again.
3. I tried really hard to provide open-ended centers that would be interesting and hands on so that they would be engaged in the activity.
Here is a center that I just finished making for my class to use. It is part of my start up Math unit on patterns.
The center is one I've used for years in my Math centers (it just looks better now...). The kids love it because it's fun and I love it because it is easy for them to be successful at it.
The kids choose a task card and make the pattern indicated on it. This picture shows on of the more challenging patterns in this set of task cards.
If you'd like to grab it click here.