Planning For An Efficient Morning Routine In the Classroom – Core Inspiration


After my students hang their backpacks, turn in their homework, and head to their seats, they know to take a look at our whiteboard where they will see “Today’s Number” written next to our schedule. Each day, the number is different, but it is always found in the same spot. This establishes the first layer of consistency, which benefits all students, especially those with special needs.

Students grab their Number of the Day supplies (their binder, a thin black whiteboard marker, and a whiteboard eraser), and get started with the daily spiral review math activities inside their binder. In our classroom, we store these supplies right inside our desks because they are used every day.

To get started with using a number of the day binder in your classroom, gather sheet protectors, white board markers, washcloths or erasers, and a binder for each student.

At the beginning of the year, students only work on the first couple pages of the binder. As they become more efficient with this routine and begin to master more advanced math concepts, new pages are introduced (more on that below). I find that completing a maximum of four pages a day is the number that works best for the 15-20 minute time block we have for our morning routine. This allows students to work through their spiral review at an efficient pace while still leaving an average of five minutes for them to book shop, read, or spend time on their work in progress. 

While students work independently through each activity, I walk around the room to collect homework, greet students, and take attendance. When students have completed their pages for the day, they tap their head with one hand as a signal that they’d like to have their work checked.

Little boy who wears glasses tapping his hand on his head to signal to the teacher that he's ready to have his work checked.

When I see a head being tapped, I am able to quickly head over to that student’s desk and check their work for the day as they flip through the four pages they have completed. After checking the work of the first couple students, the answers I am looking for on each page are easier to recall, and checking work is a breeze as I informally gather formative assessment data. 

If all pages are completed accurately, then I give students a thumbs up signal so they know they can put their binder away. If there is an error, then I simply say, “Try this page again,” rather than pointing directly to the error made. This builds students’ ability to double-check their work for accuracy. 

Once they’ve made a second attempt, they tap their head silently once again to have their work checked. In most cases, the second attempt results in accuracy. If it doesn’t, I don’t take time during our morning routine to teach that student how to correct the error. I simply have them add their name to my check-in sheet (described below) for follow-up during Math Workshop. Although it is absolutely possible to correct the pages as a class, I elect not to in the interest of time.

Core Inspiration's Number of the Day Binder page showing how to solve addition using the standard algorithm.

Because each page is stored in a plastic sheet protector, students use a whiteboard marker to complete the work, erase all their pages after they’ve been checked, and reuse the pages each day.

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