Tuesday, July 15, 2014

How to Have Lightening Fast Classroom Transitions: The ThreePeat

One of my favorite hidden gem strategies of Whole Brain Teaching is the Three-Peat Procedure. This simple, silly procedure can help save SO MUCH time on transitions. And in a 42 minute class period, every single second is precious.I can't waste two minutes waiting for kids to take out their homework, or pass out papers. I need things done quickly, done well, and move on! Enter, the Three-Peat.

The idea of this technique is that when you need students to do something you will call it out three times. Your students then repeat it three times.

Need kids to open to page 47? You say, "Page 47, page 47 page 47!"Kids repeat.
Need kids to take out their green folder? You say, "green folder, green folder, green folder!" Kids repeat.
Need kids to take out a blue pen? You say, "Blue pen, blue pen,blue pen!" Kids repeat.

By the time they are done repeating that phrase, everyone should have it out and be ready to go. If they are ready, and all moved quickly, that's a Smiley point on the Scoreboard. If they aren't, that's a Frownie point.
*Educational Tomfoolery Moment: Even if the kids ARE ready, you can give them a Smiley, but then ALSO give them a Frownie saying that they could have been faster! The Ping Pong strategy is magical too.

Now...this strategy works great...but it works even BETTER when passing out of collecting papers. It is hands down the funniest, fastest, and most fun transition I have ever seen. Here's how it works...

When you need to pass out papers, hold the stack of papers in the air and call out, "Papers, papers, papers!" The kids repeat, and then hold their hands in the air and waggle their fingers. This signals that they need a paper. If a kid doesn't have a paper, their hands are waggling in the air.

You take the stack papers, split it in half, giving one half to one student over here and the other half to another student over there. Each of these students takes their stack, splits it in half and gives one half to a student over here and the other half to a student over there.Who do they give it to? Anyone waggling their hands! This process continues until every hand is down. Kids with stacks of paper leftover put them in a designated area. I have a tray that says "Extras".

What are you doing while this is happening? Counting! I count faster when students are breaking any rules, and slower when they are following the rules. For example, polite and courteous voices make me happy so I count slower. Running across the room is not making smart choices so I count faster.

Once the last student is in their seat I stop counting.  Whatever number I counted to gets written on the board. The next time, students try to beat that number. If they beat it, they get a Smiley point on the Scoreboard...and maybe even a special free point on the Super Improvers card! Read more about the Super Improvers League here.

We use an Interactive Science Notebook, so as soon as students receive their paper, they immediately start cutting and glueing it into their notebook. The entire process of passing out papers and getting it into their notebook takes less than 2 minutes - sometimes less that one. Every second is precious.

The same procedure works in reverse for passing in papers.I don't give any instructions how to do it,kids just have to figure it out on their own. What they know is I'm counting, and they have to get the papers into the "Turn In" basket as quickly as they can. They quickly figure out that if they work together, they get it done faster. And the same works for rules...faster counting for not following rules, slower counting for following rules.

The kids love to race around...they smile and laugh and move...activating so many parts of the brain...and I get my lightening fast transition every time.


**UPDATE: Check out this post with a VIDEO showing the three peat in action!


  1. This sounds great! I am going to have to try this and see how it works with my 7th graders!

    Get Your Science on in Room 701

    1. Thanks Bagby! The three-peat is great, and will work very well with your 7th graders. Turns any routine into a game. Let me know how it goes once you try it!

  2. Can't wait to see how my 8th graders will take to this.

    1. Your 8th graders will love it too. If you have a way to split your room in half, you can have them compete as a side...each side works to get everyone on their side a paper...see which side is faster. Works really well :)

  3. I love the three-peat!! It definitely makes my transitions so much smoother and faster. It is also the number one suggestion I pass on to other teachers who say their class get easily distracted. I most often use it to get all the students to the correct page of their science notebook but I also use it for passing out papers, passing in papers and textbook pages. I want to use it in more of my transitions next year.

    1. That's awesome Erin! Thanks for sharing!!

    2. Sarah,
      Thanks for spelling this out so well on your blog. I am blogging as well! I planned on discussing this strategy in a couple of weeks. I am sure my teacher followers will really appreciate this strategy to help them transition more quickly.

      You are one of the teachers that got me interested in WBT! Keep up the awesome posts. Thanks again!
      Mastering the Middle

  4. Thanks for this tip! I started using some of the WBT techniques last year & am excited to expand this year. Thanks for sharing your information- love reading your blog!