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    Anchor Project for differentiation/acceleration/"free time"

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    I need a strategy to keep kids engaged when the bright/quick ones finish early. They cause problems entertaining themselves while I help the others finish the task.

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    One strategy that has worked well for me for years in the classroom (multiple grades and subject matter) is an anchor project. This is an assignment that is due usually at the end of the term, but is assigned early in the term. The instructions state that this assignment is to be worked on whenever the students finish a task ahead of schedule, so that there is no such thing as "free time."

    You will have to schedule a day or two during the term for slow workers to devote to the anchor project, so they have an opportunity to complete it, too - or, simply excuse those students from having to complete the project (privately).

    The section below shows one such project that I use in a STEM Engineering course - but adapt the idea to your curriculum subject, or substitute a totally different project idea instead. Once assigned, the simple reminder - this is time for you to work on your anchor project - should put a stop to free time-wasting activity from students.

    The handout is copied and pasted here. The attachments are the menu example, and the scoring rubrics.
    Your High School: Engineering Anchor Project
    This anchor project is due at the end of this term (insert date). We will vote on which is best the next day. It is expected that you will work on this project at all times in Engineering class when you do not have other classwork to complete. This project will fill any "free" time during class. We will also occasionally take some time in class that is scheduled for this project as well.
    TASK: You will design a new, small theme park on paper, ...

    Solution Summary

    Anchor project idea to use that fills free time in class, keeping students engaged.