Two words for you . . . SPIRAL REVIEW. It’s definitely a secret weapon that teachers use to support concept mastery. However, fitting it in can be easier said than done. I’ve probably said it at least a dozen times throughout my four year blogging journey, but it warrants uttering again. Our schedules have become unbelievably compact. We barely have enough time to shove in all of the core content the first time . . . let alone review it.
Despite this, all is NOT lost. I’m here to help you find a few inventive holes in your schedules. These snippets of time are available, we just have to get creative. Check out my handy-dandy “where to hunt” sheet below . . .
A super easy way to slip in some spiral review is at your doorway. Seriously . . . it’s clutch. Play a little “Secret Password” game as children enter for the day, when they return from recess, and/or before they head to lunch. You can just do this verbally and ask questions as each kiddo enters/exits. However, I like to eliminate the extra thinking required, because as we all know you will still be manning the room out of one eye as this is going down. With this said, I like to have a stack of index cards loaded with review questions sitting by my door. Not only does this keep your multi-tasking efforts in check, but it also allows you to really hone that spiral review. Sometimes I flash the cards as they are attempting to solve or read what is written. Other times, I read the cards as it is more of a question type challenge. This works with everything from math facts and sight words, to vocabulary and spelling words. Every few weeks I change out the cards.
The morning job is another easy way to slip in spiral review. Even if you only have a few minutes before you have to jump into groups, this is still VERY doable. Here are a few ideas.
For years, I was able to run with Good Morning Work. As the kids settled in every day, they were greeted with a page of “just right” review. They had enough time to complete an ELA and/or math page that reviewed targeted concepts. I made my pages review the SAME 5-6 standards for an entire week. Not only did this support concept mastery, but it also provided the opportunity for this work to be TRULY INDEPENDENT.
If you have a strict copy count, you can just jot a few problems/tasks out on the board or place them under a document camera (I had to do this my first two years in the biz). Students can work in composition books or on blank paper (I suggest having them fold it, so the creases create distinct workspaces for each question/task). If you are allowed to copy your heart out, set up a template on your computer and drop in the standards/concepts you want your kiddos to revisit. Once you have the template for Monday, you will be able to just change out the problems/tasks as they will be essentially the same for the week. If you are looking for a collection of monthly sets (reading or math) that is ready to roll for 1st or 2nd grade, I have them available! CLICK HERE to check out my second grade ditties. CLICK HERE to take a look-see at my first grade sets (these are getting a facelift).
Now, if time is extra tight (like ten minutes or less) there is still time to work something into the morning mix. When my grade-level intervention times changed, I was forced to move my Morning Work to transitional times as there just wasn’t enough time for the kids to get through a review page. I had to come up with something new . . . and FAST. That’s when the idea of levelized writing-based warm ups hit me. Depending on the level of your students, you can have them work on simply copying a sentence. This helps our lower babes (or Kinders) work on spacing, capitals, and quality handwriting. You could also provide a simple sentence and ask your students to add details. This targets quality sentence writing — hopefully eliminating the ever popular “I like ____” lines that plague papers in primary. But, don’t stop there . . . your hot shots can use a word bank to draft their own sentences. Sure, you could have them all work on the same thing, but LEVELIZING warm-ups is a surefire way to make the most of your spiral review. These little warm-ups proved to be just the ticket for me for the past two years. I had 8 short minutes before my assistant walked in and stole a group. This sentence based morning work provided just the right challenge for this tiny window of time and the majority of my class (95% at least) were able to finish before time was called. In addition, the work they did in the morning transferred into their writing outside of the morning job. This makes the focused writing block even that more effective! Other educators are saying similar things about this writing based morning job idea . . . score!!! Fostering a love of writing in kiddos always puts a grin on my face 🙂
Now, you can roll with this idea on your own . . . place various levelized sentence jobs under the document camera for children to complete in a notebook. Or, you can snag my ready-made differentiated sentence warm-ups HERE. Sentence Writing Warm-Ups are my fastest growing product on TPT. All you need is 8-10 minutes to up your writing game! Either way you roll with this, the results will be amazing.
Standards-based music is such an easy way to pop in a standard or two that you would like to revisit. If you follow me, you know that I am BIG on classroom tunes. We have SONG BINDERS in our desks that get pulled out almost daily. The kids track and sing along to not only new concept based songs, but we hit all of our old favorites too. This allows us to revisit old standards without much effort. The best part is the kids L-O-V-E it and don’t even realize that they are practicing essential grade level material! If you don’t want to deal with binders at this time, you can jot out lyrics on large chart paper or slap one copy under the document camera. Have your VIP of the day track with a pointer as the tune plays. It’s not as effective for the tracking skills, but the concepts are still front and center! Oodles of different artists out there offer standards-based tunes. Ron Brown’s Intelli-Tunes is my go-to classroom music source.
As kids transition back into the classroom from recess and specials, or as you move from block to block, a little review here and there works like a charm. As stated above, my Good Morning Work transitioned into a post-lunch refocus (I also used it as homework from time to time). It was just what my kiddos needed to calm down after lunch and get back in the learning mode. It took maybe 10-15 minutes to complete this task, but it proved to be invaluable.
Transition review doesn’t always have to come in the form of a worksheet. Oh, NO . . . you can roll with this in so many ways! Play around the world or a quick round of beat the teacher. You also can host a quick white board review session. Call out problems/tasks and have the kids respond on their mini white boards. A few minutes of free drawing time at the end of a “shesh” will have them eating out of the palm of your hand.
SAVVY CENTERS & CARPET TIME
I’m sure most of you amazing educators are already doing this, but it’s worth a mention just in case. First, reading and math rotations are the perfect time to slip in some spiral review . . . especially in those independent stops! This review can come in the form of worksheets or hands-on games. I always love a good Moffatt Girls review sheet or an engaging game that keeps kids working and smiling.
As for carpet time, most of you probably already work in concept review if you have a calendar time or math focus meeting. You can also slip in additional spiral action during your read aloud time. Story time is a great way to review concepts of print, story elements, and more! This works marvelously with both fiction and non-fiction books. Oodles of sellers out there have amazing spiral review centers. Check out my seasonal first grade math centers HERE.
CLEAN MY DESK
My final spiral review tip is pretty silly, but after successfully utilizing it for the past decade, it is safe to say that does work. I can’t take credit for this brain child. My mom played this one for years with her firsties and passed it down to me. So, without further ado, I bring you an end of the day game called Clean My Desk.
When you find yourself with a few moments at the end of the day, toss out some oral spiral review questions and call on volunteers to solve. If they get it right, they get a little somethin’. This is nothing big, mind you. This is where the CLEAN MY DESK part comes into play. I pull out junk that I don’t want any more . . . mini erasers that were used during a math activity, left over pretzels from a STEM task, junky items in the prize box that never get picked, Skittles that have been sitting around too long, pencils that I picked up super cheap at the Dollar Store and forgot to give out, smelly stickers, etc. I don’t play this every day, but on those afternoons where you aren’t hustling to get out the door and you find yourself with a little hole, this is a great toss in activity. Talk about a no-brainer spiral review!
**NOTE – It’s okay to judge my mess a little . . . I’ll let you. I see at least five things that stand out immediately that kids would love that I don’t use. Can you spot them? Here they are in NO particular order. (1) Altoids – they were a gift. I don’t like them and there are oodles of little mints that each equal one correct answer. (2) Football Pencils – they were left over from the writing we did one month. (3) Bone Erasers – again, they were left over from a writing center. (4) Post-It Tabs – I don’t use these . . . never will. Some kid will drool all over these. (5) Colored Chalk – it’s too small for the playground and I don’t ever do chalk art. And, BOOM! Just like that . . . I #cleanedmydesk 🙂
Alright, so there you have it. A few creative ideas to help you slip a bit more spiral review into your already jam-packed day. If you have any other thoughts on working in extra review, I’d love to hear them in a comment below. Thanks for taking the time to visit me today. I will see you again soon.