Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Entrance Routines and Procedures

I'm a procedural person. I like having a procedure set with the over-riding goal understood by all classroom staff. This helps me when I'm lesson planning.....I can quickly figure out if new ideas will work with the structure of a procedure or if they need modifying to be successful.

Teachers and/or parents sometimes fear that creating a routine will stifle creativity or limit a child's imagination. While that fear is understandable, my experience is quite the opposite! I see children becoming more creative and more willing to take risks because they have a safe and familiar way to access materials and interact with peers. Exploration, discovery, risk-taking, problem solving, inquiry....all can be embedded into a routine. (Check out an earlier post about daily routines:

A natural place to start with classroom procedures is an Entrance Routine or Procedure. At every level of education students have to enter the classroom. The beginning of your lesson will be more effective if you SET and then TEACH your students an Entrance Routine or Procedure.

I have observed quite a few master teachers at work in their classrooms. I have seen a number of ideas for Entrance Routines, however, they all have certain characteristics that are similar. Things to think about before determining your personal entrance routine.

1) What are staff assignments? (bus, parent drop off, classroom)
2) Have a consistent routine in place. (the option or activity may change as the student's skills increase)
3) Can EVERY child participate in the routine? (Is staff support available for those who need it?)
4) Have I set the tone for the day/lesson? (SMILE :-), staff greets student, student greets staff)

I first observed how effective an entrance routine was in my Level 2 internship. (Thanks, Heather, for teaching me such a valuable lesson!) I was interning at a middle school. The teacher I was assigned with taught several different levels of math throughout the day, however at the beginning of each class all of her students did the following:

First: "Do Nows" (board work, usually review problems)
Second: "Mad Minute" (precision teaching based, math fact drills,
Third: Homework Review

Heather posted her routine and every class period completed this routine when they entered her class. She varied the assignments according to the class and student needs, however, everyone was able to participate successfully. Inevitably, a smooth entrance and preparation for learning made her instructional time much more effective also!

Ideas for Entrance Routines (Please share your entrance routines in the comments section!)

Idea #1: Journals:
The teacher assigns an option based on student's skill set:

Option 1:
Student draws a picture in journal
*tell an adult about the picture, adult writes dictation
*write beginning sounds to match picture, adult writes dictation
*write a sentence about picture (adult only re-writes sentence if it is not easily decoded)

Option 2:
Student writes sentences only
*student reads journal entry to adult

When daily journal entry is finished:
*student moves journal to corner of desk to "cue" adult they are finished and ready to talk
*adult listens and draws "star" or "smiley" at top of page
*student returns journal into his/her desk until the following day

Completed journal (last journal entry finished) goes home

New journals
*pre-made new journals are stored in a tray on a bookshelf or counter for easy student access
*students independently get a new journal from the tray when needed
(Journals I have used in the past are pages of developmentally appropriate writing paper, stapled together with a construction paper cover. Easy and cheap!)

Idea #2: Visual Entrance Chart
*Create or purchase a poster large enough to accomodate all student pictures or names (leave room for new students/growth). Laminate poster. Stick loops (soft) velcro squares or dots on poster. (We started with a school house poster purchased from a teacher supply store....easy and got us going! Since then we have created posters to match theme units or skills: shapes, colors, numbers, harvest, insects, sea animals, etc.....more work but helps to develop skills and vocabulary.)
*Write students' names on poster board/tagboard. Laminate or cover with sealing tape. Stick hooks (hard/rough) velcro on back of name.
*Stick loops velcro (soft) velcro dots on cubbies or below backpack hooks.
*Place student name on velcro in cubby or below hook.
*When students hang up back pack, they take their name and place it on the chart

Idea #3: Independent Work Folders
*Create a file folder for each student. Fill file folder with individual worksheets based on IEP goals. (I used these a lot with math goals. i.e. Adding to 10 with blocks. Adding double digits with re-grouping. Multiplying single digit by double digits.)
*Work must be able to be completed WITHOUT adult assistance.
*Post goal and mastery chart on or in file folder. (I used a small strip of paper and wrote the goal and mastery level on it. i.e. I can add to 10 with blocks 80% or better. Then I drew a quick and easy chart with 10 small squares.)
*Put sticker or star on chart towards mastery.
*10 stickers = mastery
*Change goal when mastery achieved.

Note: This is a great way to collect data towards goal mastery for progress reports. The students are empowered by helping to collect their data and they have "proof" of their progress. My K-2 class got so excited by mastering their goals, we some-how morphed into having a "goal dance" when they reached their goal.... 10 seconds of a dance with the staff and kids saying "Go Jason! It's your goal dance!" Cheesy but effective (with that group!) :-)

Remember: When creating independent work folders, you should be choosing activities that will move the student towards independently demonstrating IEP goal/objective mastery.

Idea #4: Earn Time
Student Must:
*turn in signed daily report and agenda
*turn in completed homework
*hang up backpack
*say good morning/ greet staff

If all are completed then:
*student may choose a center for play
*clean up cue is the bell for school news

If all are not completed then:
*student completes homework at desk
*student may draw at desk

Idea #5: Table Work / Desk Work / Bell Work
*Teacher chooses an activity that is placed on students tables/desks as they arrive
*Student completes work/activity
*Pre-K example: choice of puzzles, book exploration, choice of selected manipulatives (I choose the type of activity. The child chooses which specific item he/she wants.)
*K-2 example: math pages, Explode the Code, individual whiteboards/chalkboards
*3-5 example: calendar work, cursive handwriting, Explode the Code (check out link)

Entrance routines allow students and staff to start the day on a positive note. Entrance routines establish a framework teaching students HOW to enter the classroom and prepare themselves to learn! There are limitless ways to incorporate this into your day. I love learning successful strategies from other teachers and parents!

I invite you to share your successful entrance routines in the comments section!

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