I've received several emails recently asking me questions about my Fast Finisher (Extra Time) Folders. You can read all about them here, but in a nutshell they are my system for managing students who complete work very quickly. Those students know that they can choose a folder and complete the activity whenever they finish the current task more quickly than their classmates.
Here are some of the questions that I've received recently:
- How do you structure the folders so that students know which folders contain activities that they are able to complete? I don't. Students can grab any folder that they want, regardless of where we are in the year and what the folder contains. They are allowed to browse through the folders until they find one that they would like to complete and feel ready for, so they usually choose the more basic folders first and put aside the more complicated folders. By the time that they've done all of the basic ones, it is later on in the year and they are ready to tackle more challenging tasks/content. Additionally, I add work banks and keys to each of the folders so that students are able to complete the activity even if we've not yet learned all of the content that it contains. For example, if the activity is a horizontal conjugation of a short passage, I'd include a short "how-to" with translations of first-person structures that they'd need (tengo - I have, mi - my, etc.).
- How do you grade students' work? I don't grade it. I check to make sure that it is completed satisfactorily, and then I give the student a sticker to put on the sticker chart. I offer prizes for achieving certain milestones--like picking a prize from my prize box for every 10 sheets that are completed--and a big prize for completing the entire sticker chart (like buying them an ice cream). I don't put a grade in the grade book, because not all students have extra time to work on the folders, and all students work at different rates. This is the equivalent of 'extra credit' work that is above and beyond what is expected of them in class, but I don't give extra credit :) Since students work at their own pace, when they have time, I don't put a timeline on completion of the sticker chart. I simply recognize them for their work as it is completed.
- What if I don't have access to a laminator? Just put paper copies of the worksheets in each folder, and students can grab one of the copies, complete it, and keep it after you've checked it out. This is way easier than preparing the laminated folders, but it uses much more paper and requires more maintenance in the long-run (you have to keep track of which folders are running low on their activity sheets). Either way works just as well as the other.