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Monday, August 20, 2018

What to Do With Students Who Finish First

How do you manage the time when some students are done with an assignment and others need to finish before you move on in a lesson?  This post gives you tips and techniques for managing the time with early finishers.

What to Do With Students Who Finish First

Things to consider before choosing activities for your early finishers: 

  • Are these activities for enrichment, review purposes, or just for fun? 
  • Will the assignments count for extra credit?
  • Will these be assignments to be done individually or in pairs/groups?

First, I’d like to mention that I always have a list of must-do activities to be completed before students are allowed to do any extras:

  • Vocabulary
  • Organizing notes
  • Make up work
  • Correcting tests 

Enrichment Activities 

If students complete the list above, they can request one of the following:

Laminated file folders with simple activities that can be completed with dry-erase markers: 

  • Crosswords 
  • Word searches
  • Storyboards
  • Acrostics 

Comprehension activities:

  • TIME magazine
  • Scholastic
  • Book reviews


I love to tell students that when they finish early, they may EAT (enjoy a text). 

I have a classroom library with books and magazines about the subjects I cover in the courses I teach.  When someone finishes early, I often tell them to find something to read.  It gives students additional reading practice and it also lets them learn more about topics that I may not have addressed in my lessons that interest them. 

Review Activities 

Use Quizlett for:

  • Vocabulary review
  • Use to put in your content, copy, and then go to Quizlet and paste it in there.  
I also have them “quiz” each other on:
  • vocabulary 
  • turn the headings from their textbook into questions and quiz each other with that
  • Old test questions (I have them keep all their old tests in their binder)

Student Tutors

One option is to pair up the kids that are always finishing first with kids that need more time so that they can hopefully encourage each other - one will reinforce their skills by 'teaching' it and the other will get the support they need.

A word of caution with this technique:  Make sure the personalities mesh before pairing up. Not all early-finishers are kind or helpful tutors. 

Activities just for fun:

  • Challenge capsules: Little plastic bottles with random questions inside
  • Make an enrichment bulletin board with QR codes to make it more interactive. Students watch videos with a tablet/phone

What else would you add to this list?  I always need fresh ideas!

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