Entry tasks are short tasks that I use either at the beginning of the day or as transitions from recess or lunch. They get everybody warmed up for the next activity while I address the inevitable needs that come up at such times.
Every year we seem to have to limit our copying budget. As a result, I keep finding ways to do routine tasks without paper. Having students write short blog posts is a great way to get them prepared for the next lesson. Here are three types of entry tasks, I have used on Kidblog:
Student Generated Questions
My students have a notebook where they write questions for morning meeting. Most of the questions are get to know you questions. The person who writes the question gets to start the discussion. Once we had a student who was on an extended absence. When we got to her question, we blogged the answers and she could participate from another continent.
She asked, “What do you think is the main thing people appreciate about you?” Because I moderate all comments, I deleted any comments that hurt feelings and have a face-to-face conversation about what to post online. (Wouldn’t you like to have a face-to-face conversation about what people post online?)
What happened here was amazing. Students asked each other for feedback and responded to each other’s posts with compassion. This started a great community building activity.
My students also generate their own questions in subject areas. Currently we are learning about what the American Dream means to people and what obstacles prevent people from reaching their goals. These questions are perfect for online discussion. Once again I can delete off topic and hurtful comments. I also find that students who don’t enjoy oral discussion with classmates are excellent contributors online.
Quote Responses – with paraphrase worksheet
I have a large collection of quotes I use for character education discussions. I also use these to teach students how to paraphrase. I have my quotes organized by attributes like kindness and gratitude.
One day I posted the following quote by Mark Twain, “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” I asked students to write what they thought it meant to them. Many gave a simple paraphrase while others discussed how kindness can be felt by those with disabilities.
Once again this is an activity that could be done in a typical class discussion, but it is powerful to have students quietly reflect, paraphrase and comment on each others’ ideas. More students can participate at once.
Picture Writing Prompts — “Caption This”
For this activity, I use a mix of Kidblog header images and pictures I have taken myself. I talk with my students about copyrights on images and giving credit to the photographer, so I model this in class.
Here are some prompts I have used in the past:
- What type of treasure would you keep in this box? (Picture of a small chest of coins)
- Where does this road go? (Picture of a glowing road going straight in the distance.)
- What happened to my strawberries? (Pot of strawberries with a police caution tape.)
- What happened to my goldfish? (Empty goldfish bowl with my cat sitting next to it.)
I usually keep this activity low prep and just have the students respond as they choose to the prompt. I know there are very structured lessons where students make careful observations and inferences and write longer pieces.
Short blog posts are a great way of recording entry or exit tasks. Students can write quickly and comment on others’ posts. I can monitor the discussion online and off. My administrators are happy, because I’m saving money and time at the copy machine.