Whether in workshops or via email, one of the most common questions I hear is:
What do I do with my early finishers?
But, friends, I do believe that this is the wrong question.
What we should ask is: why are students finishing so fast in the first place?
So… why do some kids finish so darn quickly?
It’s likely that the work they are doing is simply too simple for them.
Here are the symptoms of simple tasks:
- have exactly one right answer
- have one known way to get to the answer
The solution to early finishers is to give them a sufficiently complex task to begin with, not to try to keep them busy once they finish a too-simple task quickly.
To do that, we could:
- Pre-Assess, so we know who already gets it before we teach. This will free up time so that students can do more interesting things.
- Avoid those common differentiation anti-patterns to make sure we’re actually offering something different, not just more.
- Use Gallagher and Ascher’s framework to ask higher-order questions.
Above all, we must make sure that we’re asking students to think, not merely remember.