Stopping the chitter chatter during instructions and transitions

Discussion in 'Behavior Management' started by IcyRock, Oct 17, 2017.

  1. IcyRock

    IcyRock Rookie

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    Oct 17, 2017

    Although I'm not new to education, this is my first year being the lead classroom teacher. I'm the technology teacher for K-5 at two schools. The beginning of the school year was a struggle, but after reading and viewing every video about classroom management, I think I'm turning a corner after 2 1/2 months. Here's the only things I still struggle with: getting the class simmered down to listen to instruction, smoother transitions between activities and lining up to go. It's mostly with my 4th-5th graders. The younger ones, I can tell, have been well trained on how to act in class.

    Feel free to ask more questions if you need clarification.
     
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  3. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    Oct 17, 2017

    First off, the older ones have probably been well trained, too - they just push boundaries more. Please don't assume that their behavior in your classroom reflects poorly on their regular classroom teacher's management. The little guys tend to respect adults much more naturally. The older kids sometimes need more convincing.

    Coming into class - set your expectations very explicitly and practice until they do what you are expecting. If they slip up coming in, practice it again.

    Transitions - also practice, but timing them might work. Set a goal and have them show they're ready in however many seconds or whatever. Older kids like to beat their time. Maybe for class or team points? I've never been a specialist, so I'm not sure how incentives like that would work. Our PE teacher rates the class on a 1-5 scale for the day's class and then shares his rating with the kids and with the classroom teacher. I reward my kids for good reports from our specialists.
     
  4. Been There

    Been There Rookie

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    Oct 18, 2017

    Minimize wait-time so students are not idle. Use technology to help make your lessons interesting. Try using a digital count-down at the beginning of your lessons: mine shows 5-4-3-2-1 with a beep at the end (you can make one using PowerPoint or find them online). I handle transitions with super efficient student helpers and small icons at the top of the screen that tell the class what they need to be doing: pencil (writing), book (reading), person thinking (thinking), person with text bubble (speaking). The icons have freed me from having to tell students what to do all the time - they are more self-directed. It's super critical to develop routines for everything so students know what to do.
     
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  5. IcyRock

    IcyRock Rookie

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    Oct 18, 2017

    Haha. I am the technology teacher! What I used to do in subbing was give them time limits for each activity and it worked. I need to work on doing that in this situation too. I like the countdown clock idea and I have to find a way to make sure it shows, because I use my Promethean board a lot for demonstration purposes. And I like the on-screen icons idea because they can visually look and see what's expected of them without me always having to get their attention orally.

    Yellow Daisies: I wasn't implying that there hasn't been training or there's something lacking with the regular classroom teachers. It's just that I've observed how well the younger kids walk down the hallway with their students reminding them of the expectations and how the older kids walk giving even their homeroom teachers a challenge.

    I've enlisted the support of their homeroom teachers to gather insights and strategies. Turns out there's a lot of transfers, especially in the upper grades, because a local school was torn down for renovations and we got 1/3 of their students. Plus, I have students who are push outs/pull ins, so not even their rotation teachers have them all day. I am appreciative that I mostly have administrative support because they are already aware of the small crew who give all their teachers a challenge.
     
  6. rpan

    rpan Comrade

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    Oct 18, 2017

    I think visual cues such as the countdown mentioned and audio cues such as three claps or buzzer are good cues for students to follow.
    It’s also important that you wait and scan the room after your cues before giving your instructions. Don’t give instructions if there are some kids who are talking over you and don’t forget to praise those who are doing the right thing so that it becomes an additional cue to those who are taking longer. E.g. Katie, well done for being seated and ready to listen. Josh, I see that you put your books away really quickly. I’m impressed! Etc.
     
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  7. IcyRock

    IcyRock Rookie

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    Oct 18, 2017

    I tried a lot of your suggestions except for the timer. I probably will have to just get a physical timer from the dollar store.

    So, I had a bell ringer I wanted to them complete. This is how basic I told them: "Type your first name and last name at the top of the paper. Type the date right beside it. Do not change the font or size. Save your work. Don't do anything else until I tell you." (although I did let some kids go forward who got it done quickly). I said the instructions one at a time and checked around the room. I put an example on the board. This is what I got: Do I have to put my last name? Can I put my nickname? I don't know how to spell my name. (This is third grade). What's the date? (Calendar's in the back of the room and on the corner of the screen). Unreadable fonts. I forgive them for still struggling with saving documents because some are not that computer literate (which is why I got hired) and they're still learning. Since I talk all the time, I thought it'd be a good idea for a classmate to show them step by step on the Promethean board. Nope.

    Okay, so now what? I must have wasted 10 minutes just correcting kids and some still didn't get it right let alone get to typing the one question I need them to answer.
     
  8. Been There

    Been There Rookie

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    Oct 18, 2017

    Thanks for the additional info. Here's what I would do if I had to teach the class tomorrow. First,
    I'd group the entire class into pairs so that they can learn to work with each other without your help. I'd prepare an example of what the final product should look like. In this case, I'd simplify the task by just projecting a sheet of lined paper (from Promethean?) onto the screen with a student's first and last name in the top right corner. I'd show the date in the upper right corner: November 18, 2017.

    Next, I'd prepare a template of the exercise that students could fill in with their name and date. Font and spacing have already been provided by you - they just need to practice a bit of word processing that includes capitalization and punctuation (comma). Refrain from talking "all the time" after you give brief initial instructions. Let the class work on this for a few minutes. What do early finishers do? I tell them to sit quietly with hands folded while others are completing the task - anyone causing a disruption will not be allowed to continue with the next part of the task.

    Are the students able to compose their own questions? Show the next slide of the final product which includes an example of the kind of question that you want students to compose themselves. Direct students to type their questions onto the template. For those that are not ready, allow them to copy your question.

    This highly structured approach is especially useful when you have students who: lack basic discipline and/or lack basic word processing skills. Let us know if this works for you!

    P.S. I use PowerPoint which allow me to develop templates with "place holders" that just need to be filled in by students. Once they get the idea, they can do it on their own.
     
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  9. IcyRock

    IcyRock Rookie

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    Oct 18, 2017

    I use PowerPoint too, but really to broadcast the instructions for the day and I read it as well for the auditory learners. I've kinda tried the helpers method with mixed success, but I think when I define better what is help, that will help. But I gotta say, Been There, it was so frustrating to waste that much instructional time on something I felt was pretty basic. In what universe do you have an assignment and not at least put your name on the paper?

    I'm beginning to get really good at figuring out what's the real issue when students get stuck. Like my bell ringers are questions like these: Why should learn how to type? Students thought I merely wanted them to type the question. So I rephrased questions as sentence beginners like: I should learn how to type because... Then they thought I just wanted them to copy that. So I made it more explicit by saying, "type the beginning of the sentence and finish it with your answer."

    I stopped taking sentences that began with "so" or "because" the school system is trying to get students used to writing in complete sentences. They can write beautiful answers, but I make sure they end their sentence with a period. I have some classes that can walk in, see the instructions and get writing. And for the students that always start off with, "What are we supposed to be doing?" the students have gotten used to getting their neighbor up to speed. But you have no idea how frustrated I was and still am that this particular class couldn't even get the name and date on their paper. I had so many things I thought we could cover in one class period, plus some backups, so it really felt like a wasted day.

    I may be the tech teacher, but I am woefully out of my league with educational software. My previous experience was teaching adults computer literacy at tech schools. One school I was at, we used the Cengage LMS. At a career institute, since they didn't have all that, I made a link to OneDrive where they could submit their work. I've been trying to figure how to have student submissions without using emails since they're under 13. I settled on Edmodo, but I haven't gone live with it. I'd also like to use my teacher page more for things like providing instructions (for my confused students or early finishers), screen shot videos or YouTube videos for tasks, and examples, but, again, I haven't gotten that up and running either.

    On a good note, I'm not a treats type person, so I try to instill intrinsic rewards and it works okay. I do things like read the sentences aloud of the first few finishers and praise them, then the rest are practically fighting for my attention to read theirs. When we were doing typing, I rewarded the early finishers with being able to play a typing game on approved websites. Now, I just give them more work and they're happy to be kept busy and they've stopped even asking me if they can play games.

    As I tell people, in education, never a dull moment...
     
  10. Been There

    Been There Rookie

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    Oct 19, 2017

    As a special ed. teacher, my lessons are usually so highly structured that student failure is nil. I also have no need for extrinsic incentives because students know exactly what to do and how to do it. After they learn the basics, they are given more and more liberty to take off with their own ideas. Unfortunately, I find that all too often students are given a "long leash" before they are ready and that's when the problems begin to pile up. By following a developmental progression, all students are able to experience success and eventually accelerate up a steep learning curve.
     
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  11. Obadiah

    Obadiah Habitué

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    Oct 19, 2017

    I'm not advocating a sudden change in procedures, because consistency is more important than "finding something that works", but I might recommend that some of the behaviors you're noticing are positive when applied in appropriate situations. Sometimes transitions need to be quiet, but transitional chatter is also beneficial to retention and comprehension of a lesson. Even though the chatter is not subject related, the brain is taking a break--it sounds contradictive, but during a brain break the brain is actually working harder adjusting itself to utilize the new information and preparing itself for further information.

    The questions you mentioned sound legitimate (except perhaps the name-spelling one, and I'll return to that). Sometimes when students are expected to perform in a precise manner, they ask overly specific and even seemingly nonessential questions. They might even become a bit silly in their questioning for various reasons, but one might be to counter the tension experienced in any kind of precision work. I like the method of scaffolding questions: I answer a question with another question to help the student discover the answer. If the student is still confused, I move to a simpler question, until finally the student catches on and discovers the answer. Some 3rd graders might have legitimate difficulty typing the spelling of their name; the writing of their name is a different procedure and the skill might not readily transfer to typing. It has to do with the brain connection: it's like a wire that has a break in the insulation and brain electricity literally escapes. Trying, failing, and correcting until s/he can type the name will strengthen that insulation.

    I'm not very techy, so I hope I'm describing this correctly, but I recently read how computers that are programmed to figure stuff out without specific step-by-step programming develop stronger programs. I thought, how similar that is to human children. Rather than an operant conditioning model of step by step on every detail, trying, failing, and correcting results in stronger and even more detailed learning. I'm not suggesting total discovery; lessons still need to be taught, but I've found there needs to be plenty of room for trial and error, and for creative exploration. If I might touch on the failing aspect of trial and error, that is probably the make or break step in a lesson. Students need to fail without fear; instead they need to be encouraged to view failure accurately. A wrong answer still might have been attempted with a somewhat correct procedure, and the fact that a student attempted in the first place is a great start. This is where teachers come in. We encourage the attitude of the old song, "I pick myself up, brush myself off, and start all over again."
     
  12. IcyRock

    IcyRock Rookie

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    Oct 24, 2017

    It took re-reading and reflecting to get what you meant by the name spelling. Sometimes students don't have the precise language for what they need to say. They probably meant, "I don't know how to find the letters for my name." The school district is using the 3rd-5th graders at our school as the test site for rolling out the computerized standardized test that replaces the paper and pencil one. I'm praying that the typing drills and the typed constructed responses I had them do in the first 9 weeks will prove to have been helpful. It looks like I'm going to have to have them do 3-5 minutes worth of typing every day in addition to the upcoming lessons on computer applications.
     
  13. Obadiah

    Obadiah Habitué

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    Oct 25, 2017

    Yes, sometimes what a student says isn't the worded the way an adult would word a question, and can be misunderstood by a teacher; I agree, that's probably what the student meant. But what I was referring to is that a skill, such as spelling a word, might not transfer readily to combine with another skill, such as typing. I experienced that as a teenager when I first learned to play an organ. I was proficient at the piano, but finding the keys on the pedals of the Hammond organ at my music teacher's house was frustrating. Once I found them, I had to use my feet the same way I'd use my fingers. My dad also noticed I'd unconsciously attempt to control the volume dynamics with my fingers even though I was using the expression pedal (another pedal on a Hammond), and often I'd overuse the expression pedal, even though I was proficient at volume dynamics on a piano. And then there was the experience of transferring that knowledge to various sizes and widths of pedals.
     

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