Teacher, I'm Done! {Keeping Fast Finishers Engaged}

There are so many things to think about when it comes to classroom management, including how to manage your fast finishers.  So, let's talk fast finishers!

Activities to Keep Fast Finishers On Task

Do these sound familiar?

I'm done!
What should I do next?
When I finish, what should I do?
What can I do when I'm done?
I'm Done! Now what do I do?

They are all valid exclamations and/or questions, but let's be honest, who wants to hear them repeated 40 times throughout the school day?  I don't (just keeping it real, friends).  That's why I have a "fast finisher" system. Most likely, you have one too!  Having a system definitely helps save my sanity and it keeps my students busy when they finish their assigned tasks. Win-win!

My System
In my classroom, whenever a student finishes an assignment, they follow this protocol.

This pocket chart hangs just above my "I'm Done" box so students are always reminded of what they can do if there is time to spare.

Just like any procedure, I have to teach my students how to follow and use this system.  They need reminding, lots of reminding, at the beginning of the year.  But, as time goes by, they become pros and don't need me to nag them remind them anymore.

So, here's how it works.  When a student finishes an assignment and turns it in, they must finish any unfinished work they have.  This is nonnegotiable.  Each student has a special folder in his/her desk that is used to store assignments that are still being worked on.  This task is a must because I don't want their work to pile up and it teaches them to follow through on incomplete tasks.

If a student does not have any unfinished work, he/she gets to choose whether they would like to complete a "Fast Finisher Activity" or read silently. They are allowed to read a book from our classroom library, or they may read their own books that they have brought from home. This gives the students a bit of choice in what they do.  They love this, of course.

Fast Finisher Activities
So, what exactly is a fast finisher activity?  In my classroom, it's something that is both "fun" and meaningful, but more about that in just a second.  I usually set out three buckets of activities at a time (you can only see two).  The students can use the materials in any of the buckets until it is time for us to move on to the next lesson in our day.

Here is a look at the kinds of materials you might find in my "Fast Finisher Activity" buckets.

Materials shown above:
  • Saxon wrap ups (These were left over from years ago, but they are great practice!  My teaching partner found a few sets on her storage shelf just the other day, and I gladly took a set off her hands since my old set went by the wayside years ago.)
  • One Breath Boxes from Donna Coleman
  • 100 chart puzzles from Sarah Cooley
Materials shown above:
Switching Out the Activity Buckets
There is no scientific method as to which items I decide to put out.  Each has value and each is a meaningful resource for students to interact with throughout the school year.  I switch out the activities every 2-4 weeks, or whenever I can see that students need them to be changed out.  I know it's time to switch them out when the students are aren't frequenting the buckets quite as often.

Whenever I set out a new batch of materials, I share them with the students and explain how to use them, if necessary.  Most of the materials I set out are variations of each other, so I really don't have to do much explaining throughout the year.

Storing the Activities
I store all of my fast finisher items in large storage tubs (like the one below) so that I can switch them out quickly.  When I change out the activity pages in the dry erase pockets, I do need to go to my digital files and print out the pages I want, but other than that, everything is stored in these tubs.  ;)

It is pretty common for me to add more/new materials to my stash over the course of the year.  I'm always on the lookout for resources that my students will enjoy and benefit from!

I've used this system for years, and once it is taught and understood by the students, it keeps things running smoothly in our classroom.  And, I never have to hear, "I'm done! Now what do I do?"


Activities to Keep Fast Finishers On Task


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  1. I have a similar system in place, but I love the idea of having a pocket chart to remind students of the protocol. I am definitely going to put one up near my fast finisher activities now!

    Paiges of Learning

  2. I'd love to see more about the journals you're using!

    1. Hi Cydney!

      You can read all about my shared journals here: http://www.primarily-speaking.com/2014/06/an-update-and-giveaway.html#.WLO8vH-aGug
      (copy and paste the link to access this post).

      Thanks for stopping by! :)


  3. Hi Deanna,

    The labels used on the activity bins were purchased from a seller on TpT (Learning in Wonderland). They are editable, so they can be customized to beet your needs. Thanks for stopping by! :)



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