How do you handle off topic conversations during classwork?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Ms.Holyoke, Dec 5, 2018.

  1. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Groupie

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    What are your best strategies for dealing with off topic conversations/a lack of focus during classwork? I am struggling with this in almost all of my classes. I feel like I am consistently policing them to "turn around, stay focused." I want them to only be working with their partner during classwork and it is turning into a struggle...especially with the # of kids that I have. Any ideas/tips?
     
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  3. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Sometimes students may need more guidance than "Complete this page with your partner." It might help to go problem by problem. Have all groups do a problem together. Then, randomly select one group to show the class their solution. Have partners discuss whether their answer matches the one displayed. Then, move on to the next question.
     
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  4. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Groupie

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    So I used to do this a little bit more...but then my math coach said that I wasn't giving enough work time to the kids because they all finished at different times and I went over it too soon. So I was trying to give the kids a little bit more work time as suggested.

    I have several students in the class that are extremely low and cannot complete the classwork. I understand why they are unfocused but I don't know what to do about it. The rest of them can definitely do or attempt the work.
     
  5. ssgirl11

    ssgirl11 Companion

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    I walk around with my "Clipboard of Doom," as it is lovingly called. I walk around the whole time, and keep track of who I have given a warning to. Once I have given them a warning, if they are off task again, their pair is broken up. If it a group project , where I absolutely need them working together, I deduct cooperation points whenever they are off task.
     
  6. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Groupie

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    How do you break up a pair?
     
  7. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    I find this helpful, either for my first cooperative learning activities, or if needed later on in the year. At the end of the activity, we discuss how well the activity went. I also have notated a list of positive aspects that I noticed while the groups were working. I try to focus the discussion specifically on what procedures, comments, ideas, etc. promoted each group's achieving their goal.

    One tricky aspect towards any thinking project, sometimes the brain needs to take a break and regroup, which occurs during an unfocused moment. The trick is keeping the students task oriented if they need to stop for a quick breather. In elementary class, I'm walking around the room, and so I might stop at a group who needs to regain focus, ask a question about their exploration, or perhaps comment on what they've accomplished so far. Often, insight occurs during such a break in the action. Something else I've noticed in teaching, sometimes an off the subject comment isn't all that far off the subject. (Hopefully) the students' brains are searching for connections to better catalogue the concepts, and these connections will remind them of previous learning or experiences. Again, I try to scaffold the group back to the main task at hand, but sometimes I can add to the connection, also.
     
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  8. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    I move the kids to another group or make them work independently. It’ll depend on the misbehavior and if there was a ring-leader of the pair.
     
  9. Teacher234

    Teacher234 Comrade

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    I have my students sit around the classroom (in a relatively flexible seating format). I make sure students are separated from each other. I circulate around the classroom and check in with each student.
    I always prefer to have my students work independently. Any partner work and group work would be completed with myself or my teacher assist guiding the students on the assignment.
    Students who are off-task:
    1) Verbal reminder 2) Relocation to assigned seat at table 3) two minutes out of recess
    In extreme cases, my teacher aide takes the student to hallway and works on the assignment out there.
    hope this helps.
     
  10. rpan

    rpan Cohort

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    Seating plan. For such a large class, and a class that can’t make good decisions for themselves, I don’t hesitate to put them in a seating plan. And i would not let them do pair or group work unless necessary. I keep students back at recess or lunch if required to catch up on work missed. I ring parents often as well.
     
  11. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Groupie

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    I have a seating plan but I likely have to change it.
     
  12. rpan

    rpan Cohort

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    Are the students having off topic conversations but still doing work? If so, I personally don’t mind it too much. It’s only if they are not being productive or their progress is too slow that I intervene and I get grumpy.
     
  13. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Groupie

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    Yeah the progress is slow. I was wondering if I am just being too picky or strict. I
     
  14. ssgirl11

    ssgirl11 Companion

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    I simply tell them that they have lost their privilege to work with a friend, and they are to be working independently on opposite sides of the room.
     
  15. creativemonster

    creativemonster Comrade

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    I remind them to come back on task. I have HS students and I tell them that of course our minds leap to connect various topics, but we can train ourselves to remember to check in and come back to task at hand. I remind them that they will need this skill in college during study groups. But it is something that I am continually reminding them of. That's ok, that's part of their learning process. I catch myself in teacher groups going off topic too - it's human nature.
     
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  16. Bioguru

    Bioguru Companion

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    Dec 11, 2018

    I am always fairly lenient on this; I teach mainly sophomores and juniors, BTW. As long as the group is getting the assigned work done in a timely manner, I usually overlook any offtopic conversation. As others have said, if a group is consistently not getting their work done at the same pace as others I will split them up and make them work individually for a week then put them back together; this usually takes care of the issue.
     
  17. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    if students are getting their work done, at a pace that I require, I don't care if they chat while they work. Sometimes I will say that work is to be completely independent and expect everyone to be silent. They're pretty good about that, probably because they know that I allow talking once in a while.

    If they're getting themselves distracted I'll tell them that the off-topic chatting indicates that they are finished and ready to turn in an assignment. That usually gets them back on track quickly!
     

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