Spring is in the air! I love the warm weather and promise of summer, but sometimes maintaining routines and calm in the classroom can be a challenge! I know my students are always louder and more distracted this time of year. It’s important that we strive to end our days on a positive note and without classroom routines students can often be loud, rowdy, and pushy running out the doors as soon as the bell rings. In order to calm the chaos in my room, I like to keep my routines simple and engaging for students.
Having a read aloud is one simple and great way to keep students engaged at the end of the day. Make sure that you pick a really great book that students can relate to. I always ask my students for book recommendations and then read them over the summer for read aloud choices the next year. When doing your read aloud make sure you don’t use audio. I once had a student tell me they like it better when I read to them and they hear my voice. Students are naturally calmed when being read to out loud.
Read aloud is not only engaging but it has many benefits for students! It enhances your literacy program and allows students to hear good fluency and tone. You can also use this time to ask thought provoking questions and dive deeper into the text.
Exit tickets are another simple and effective way to keep students engaged until the bell rings. Exit tickets are a great type of formative assessment for you to know what your students learned that day. This can especially help with small or whole group instruction for the following day. They also provide the opportunity for students to reflect on what they learned throughout the day, helping to cement it better in their minds. By using exit tickets, students will have one last opportunity to remember what they have learned and the end of the day chaos can be avoided.
I don’t know about you, but my students love a good math challenge! They love math puzzles, riddles, and fun applications of math. This is a great way to give students something to look forward to at the end of the day and end on a high note. It also enables students to collaborate together. Look for real world problems that students can solve, math puzzles like “Which One Doesn’t Belong”, sudoku or riddles.
Having a visible classroom timer or projecting a timer on the board is another super easy way to help manage your classroom at the end of the day. With a timer on, students know how much time they have to complete their work and are more likely to stay on task. It also saves from answering the repeated question of “Is it time to go yet?” You can have students turn in homework assignments, clean up their desk area or classroom, fill out an agenda for homework or the following day, and pack their bags until the timer is done. Adding a timer at the end of the day is perfect added structure for the end of the day.
Students LOVE music, so this is another great tool to help calm chaos in your classroom. Play calming songs that will help to keep the peace in your classroom. I love to play classical or instrumental pop songs that my students enjoy. Have students pack up while the song is playing and when they are done they can sit quietly at their desk and listen to the music. If you choose songs with lyrics, have students put their heads down and listen carefully to the lyrics. As a side note, make sure you are familiar with all songs you play so you aren’t caught off guard with language or content!
Our middles love to talk! It’s part of the reason that the end of the day can be so loud and crazy! So a great way to calm the chaos is to give students the opportunity to talk with some reins. After they have filled in their agenda and packed their bags, write a discussion topic on the board that students can share their opinion about. You can have students discuss in small groups or as a whole class.
Make sure that you offer open and engaging topics with many possible opinions and ideas like; should students be allowed to listen to music while they work, is technology beneficial to middle school kids, should students be required to wear uniforms to school etc. You can also offer students an opportunity to contribute to the topic by having them write questions down on a piece of paper and place it in a discussion jar in your classroom. Each day you can draw a new question to discuss. You will often hear students continuing their discussions as they leave your class each day!
No More Chaos
I hope that these simple suggestions have sparked your ideas of how you can calm the end of the day and end of the year chaos. We have just a few weeks left with our students so I hope you are able to make them great for both you and your middles! I hope you have a wonderful end of the year and as always remember, you’ve got this!