Here's a quick idea that might help if you struggle with transition times...
When I was new, my class would be going fine, they when we transitioned to a new activity or passed out a material, I'd lose them. The time lost passing getting my students focus back after passing out papers really started to pile up (especially since I move through several activities in most class periods).
Waiting for a guided note taking sheet or map or reading activity is a terrible time to teach new content, but a great time to review!
Here's a typical one, "While my friend Brian passes out your note taking sheet, who can tell me what part of a map tells you what the symbols mean?" Then, use the answer to prompt other questions, "Great job, Maddie! Now, who can tell me another part of a map?" and so on. It usually only takes three or four questions before the papers are passed out and your class is ready to go! You can even keep score to see which table answers the most questions if you want to build more buy-in by making it a game.
On my way back from NCSS 2018 (the National Social Studies Conference AKA: Social Studies Dork Heaven!), I was thinking about all the great sessions I'd gone to and amazing speakers I'd met. My biggest question was, "What new idea should I try first?"
As I paid toll after toll (thanks Chicago...), I couldn't stop thinking about the question formulation technique from the Right Question Institute. It is a way of getting students to generate, improve, then narrow down a list of questions about a topic to generate a student-guided investigation into something. My units are already pretty set in stone, but I wanted to try it on a smaller scale to generate interest and curiosity (especially so close to the holiday break). I modified the strategy to be one to spark curiosity and gave it a try, and I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT!
Here are the steps:
1. Explain the directions very carefully.
2. Project the picture and DO NOT give any information about it or answer ANY questions.
3. In groups of 2-4, the students round robin-style whisper and record questions they have about the image on a shared piece of paper for about 2 minutes.
4. Give the groups one minute to identify their "1 burning question" and circle it on their lists.
5. Each group shares out their question and you record the questions on the board or sheet of chart paper to be referred to during the day or unit to see if their questions have been answered by the end of the unit or activity.
I'm an 18 year veteran teacher that loves teaching, coaching, writing, and my family.