student solving a math problem on the board in a classroom- we're doing spiral review throughout the year

10 Ways to Effectively Spiral Review Throughout the Year

Spiral review is something I want to be better at doing this school year. I brainstormed a list of ways we can easily incorporate it into our busy days. While this list is geared toward elementary, you can take these basic concepts and make it applicable to the grade level and subject you teach! We all review at the end of the year, but this is how you can spiral review throughout the year:

  1. Questioning when you’re lining up or waiting in line.
    I feel like we are always waiting! Lining up a few minutes too early for lunch, arriving early for specials, waiting for pictures, etc. It’s helpful to have a command hook with a ring of math problems (or ELA) right by the door for these occasions. Maybe have a few problem cards on your lanyard for when you’re in the hallway. You could also have one or two topic or question stems on a card to jog your memory so you don’t have to carry around multiple cards.
  2. As a warm up before each subject.
    For math, math talks are a perfect way to do this- they are basically a spiral review in themselves. In the beginning of the year you want to focus on number sense. Subitizing would be the ideal skill for that (especially for K/1st). Students could also show different ways to represent a number (ie: 9: 9 dots, 3+6, 8+1=7+2, etc). For writing, it could be editing a sentence! A sentence is projected, and students can come up to correct mistakes (capital letters, punctuation, etc). For ELA, it could be looking for something specific in a book, like text features, or having them list a few characters traits of a character from a recent book.
  3. Weekly games.
    I used to have a middle school math teacher who would do review games in teams, used a mini basketball hoop, and gave out prizes- it was such a great time. We definitely should be doing it in elementary school! I’ve seen templates online for Jeopardy, Tic Tac Toe, Trashketball, etc. The great thing with those is that you choose the ones that work for your class, add relevant content, and then it’s DONE! You don’t have to think about it for next year, and you don’t have to create the actual game. Choosing a handful of templates and rotating them would be an easy way to keep things fresh. Knockout is also a big hit in my classroom!
  4. Movement and singing.
    There are tons of great youtube videos that incorporate movement and/or singing (thanks, Jack Hartmann!) with review for any subject. Students don’t get enough time to play outside and move their bodies like they should, so being smart about including it while in the classroom is important. I’m also a big fan of Fluency and Fitness where students have to answer questions from a video and then every so often the problems switch to music and dance/exercise moves that students can copy.
  5. Incorporated into art.
    I don’t think students get enough art during the day- especially younger students (who probably need it the most!). There are tons of educational crafts that students can do for each subject. Writing is easiest because they can make a craft and then write a creative story around it or write about their craft and incorporate an old skill. There are a lot of math crafts as well (I search teacherspayteachers all the time). I like these because they’re an innovative take on color by adding/subtraction. While ELA crafts are harder to find, there are still a lot out there!
  6. In small groups.
    I’m not sure about middle/high school, but in elementary we are essentially required to meet with small groups. (as it should be) I do a small group for reading, writing, and math. You could use this time to focus your spiral review to something that particular group needs. There are always outliers when you review whole group because for the most part, you have to target the middle. In small groups, targeting a skill by playing a game, using flash cards, and using fun materials (like white boards, markers, playdoh, etc) will make the review stick even more. I love these for cvc word review.
  7. As centers.
    Since I do guided reading and math daily, those are two opportunities where the students who are not at my table need to be working independently. Centers are a fun and better alternative to just doling out worksheets. I like to have a good mix of what we are currently practicing and a mix of review elements. If I have five centers, 2 of them may be the focused skill, and the other 3 would each be a different thing we’ve previously learned. I can’t wait to include these into my daily five for next year! (but there is an endless amount of great center content!)
  8. Into homework.
    This is arguably the best way to do homework- not having them practice a new, current skill, but having them work on an older skill that they have *hopefully* mastered. I’ve been using these math sheets for that purpose because it’s not too much for the week, and everything fits on one page. (I give homework on Monday and it’s due on Friday) And these for reading – I love that they are skill based AND students can still spend the majority of their time reading! Two pages for the week and that’s it.
  9. With computer programs.
    One of my center stations for reading and math is computer time. Students are on a rotation schedule since we aren’t a 1:1 school. Our district uses I-ready (a reading and math diagnostic + lessons program), so they want the kids to have a certain amount of time on there each week. After that, I like to use MyOn for reading (similar to programs like Epic!) and Prodigy for math. I have seen Lalilo for a phonics and comprehension program, but haven’t tried it yet. IXL is one that we don’t use frequently, but has good value in that it has more than just reading and math. You can assign specific lessons/topics for each of these programs.
  10. Monthly or Regular Challenges.
    We’ve covered daily and weekly spiral review, but monthly or bi-monthly review can also be beneficial. Ideally you’d want to use all three lengths of time, so when it comes to monthly, spice it up with challenges! I’ve used Unlock challenges (specifically the New Year’s one, but there are others) and the premise is that you have stations where students complete review problems with rewards, roadblocks, and celebrations. I haven’t personally tried any of these yet, but there are some escape room challenges similar to the above. There is a lot of flexibility in how you can structure both ideas in your classroom.
#classroomtip: Spiral review throughout the year with monthly challenges! Click To Tweet

I know each of these points had links to TPT products, and if you were to incorporate every one it would easily be hundreds of dollars. I spend a little each year to build up my ‘toolbox.’ If you are financially able to do the same, space out the purchases over a few years. Also, try to purchase only during sales (25% off is a great deal!). The site does about four major sales a year during different times. They typically always do one during back to school in August.

This goes without saying, however, you don’t have to purchase any of these products! These are just some that I have found success with in my own classroom. You can definitely spend time making a similar version or scouring the internet for templates. Looking for creative ways to incorporate these tips is another option!

Which one of these ideas are you going to incorporate this year? Or which ones are you doing that are working well? Any other ideas?

I think you’ll like my other list… 101 in 1001! It’s a cross between a bucket list and a to-do list.

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