Using Transition Time Activities
Transition activities are "halfway" activities to help students make the transition from whatever is distracting them from learning at the beginning of class to full attention on the day's lesson. In our school 9th graders do daily reading. 10th graders do basic writing forms and 11th graders do advanced writing forms
For the average 9th grade class it is easier to start a lesson if the class has already made a partial transition. For college preparation level classes this activity may not be as productive, since they may be able to get to work right away, and are already reading regularly. To begin daily reading, have a box that they can put their reading books into so that when they come to class the next day [or when you announce reading time] they can get their books.
When you begin this activity, have the first student in each row get a book [from an assortment of paperbacks that you get from your librarian] for each person in their row. The student lets the 2nd student in the row have first choice; the third student has the next choice, and so forth until all have chosen. The student who selected all the books for the row gets the book that is left after the others have chosen. No one complains, because the first student after all had the total choice and the students in the row won't complain about another student's selections, particularly if that student has the book remaining after every one else has chosen. [NOTE: If you as a teacher tell the class to "get a book" from the book rack, then you will have a lot of talking, complaining about there being no interesting books, etc. Plus there will be conversations around the books, and return trips for students that may never be satisfied with their choices.] They have to read that book until the end of the first reading time.
At the end of the first reading time, the student can either put the book into the box to reserve books for that class, or they can return it to the student who chose them. This procedure is repeated as many times as necessary, usually less than four to five days. By that time most will have books, or the few that don't can make their own choices. For the loud complainers over this system and the book choices available, simply tell them that they can bring their own books the next day, and then they can either bring them each day, or put them in that class's reading box with the others being read.
Later, when students get involved with their reading, they will read after tests and other activities when they finish before others. Then others follow their actions and you are not telling students to be quiet until the others finish their tests, etc.. This involvement with reading reduces your stress -and- the students' stress.
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