Advice on 5th Grade Horrors!

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Joy, Jan 2, 2013.

  1. Joy

    Joy Cohort

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    Jan 2, 2013

    I need help with my 5th Graders! Any advice at all would be appreciated!!!

    Here's what's going on...

    I teach K-5 music and have two sections of 5th grade. I started teaching at this school last February when these kids were in 4th grade and things haven't really changed much with them. One section usually does okay. They are not extremely gifted musically but they at least make an effort to try to do what I ask usually. The other section is rude, disrepectful, and lazy. They are kinown through the entire school for being this way too!

    This is my problem...

    5th grade has a concert in February. We've been working on stuff since the beginning of the school year since I think that a concert should show what the kids have learned for the year. I've tried to choose music that would be interesting but also educational for them. This one section just sabotoges everything! Whenever we sing, there are at least two boys who try to sing in weird voices to make it sound bad. There are also about five boys who stand there rolling their eyes. It doesn't matter what we sing. They always do it!

    I also usually have the kids draw pictures to illustrate one song for each concert. I then take these pictures and scan them to make into a powerpoint to show behind them during the song. I'm having 5th grade sing "America the Beautiful" and illustrate pictures to show on a powerpoint while they sing. They're drawing American landmarks. I've always thought that this was a nice way to include all of their talents. In the past, I've had kids volunteer to do this. They turn them in and I choose the best ones to include. When I talked about it today with this class, I only had ONE kid who took paper to work on it! When I talked to them about doing their fair share and not shoving this off on the other class, they said they didn't care.

    I just don't know what to do with these kids. It would be bad enough to have to tolerate this class but I have to do a concert with them trying to ruin it for the nicer class. I don't expect all of them to show up though. I had a kid today tell me that he never goes to the concerts and hasn't decided if he's coming. I just don't even get it and I dont know what to do! Any advice would be helpful!!!
     
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  3. Joy

    Joy Cohort

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    Jan 2, 2013

    I thought I would add something else to this...

    All of the 5th graders even the nicer class have a thing about "dating." I don't know what that means in 5th grade but I overhear it all the time. Our guidance counselor was even annoyed that she overheard them talking about what they were going to buy their boyfriends and girlfriends for Christmas. It's ridiculous! They aren't even in middle school. I've even had to give up on playing some music games because they got really disgusting with all of the talk! Is this normal or is this a really immature group of kids? I just don't even know anymore. My group of 5th graders last year was wonderful. None of this ever happened. What do you do with kids who talk like this all the time?
     
  4. heavens54

    heavens54 Connoisseur

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    Jan 2, 2013

    Have you done parent conferences? Have you talked to your administration? I would call the parents of the most disruptive students and have them come in for conferences with the child there. If the behavior doesn't improve, then start taking students out who will not do their part.

    As far as the art work goes, open it up to both classes. Whoever submits the art, use that. Don't worry about the others who don't want to contribute. Have their grades reflect this omission in their classwork.

    Their behavior must have consequences.
     
  5. Joy

    Joy Cohort

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    I need to try contacting parents!!! The problem is that the whole class just has such bad attitudes that it's hard to figure out who the worst kids are! I have taken away recess. At the beginning of the year, we had a lockdown drill while I was teaching this class. The class talked through the whole drill. They came back during their recess to redo it. They seemed a little better for awhile after that. The class is hard for everyone and I've talked with other teachers about what to do with them. Their grade level teacher told me that most of the time these kids don't even care if they miss recess.
     
  6. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    Jan 2, 2013

    Our music teachers have a form that is sort of like a progress report that says something along the lines of -
    Your child is at risk to receive a grade of N for this nine weeks due to (behavior). He or she may improve this grade by fully particiapting in class, completing class asignments, and maintaining appropriate behavior during music class.

    There is also a place for parents to sign and if it isn't returned the next day they make a phone call home during class about it and send another copy of the paper. I would also send home a general note about the upcoming performance and expectations for the class.
     
  7. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Jan 3, 2013

    Definitely sounds like you've got a class that's been together for a while and has developed a culture of rebellion. I'm guessing they're the same way with other teachers? My first suggestion is based on something you've said - you mentioned not knowing which kids seemed to be playing which roles in the process. I would definitely try to do some assessment and see who is leading the group. It's very likely for example that there are 2 or 3 boys who hold power and are establishing the trend of noncompliance, who in turn are setting the standard for others. Once you figure out the process and the roles specific kids play in that process you'll be a step closer in figuring out what to do about it.
     
  8. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Jan 3, 2013

    Letter On The Desk

    Prepare a form letter in advance similar to:

    Date: (blank -fill in)

    Dear (blank-fill in) Mr. and Mrs. Name (parents' names),

    Today I had to deal with a behavior problem caused by your child, ______ (name). The problem was ___________________________ (describe the problem - only one!) I will be contacting you to set up a conference to discuss this problem. Together I know we can come up with a plan to help _________ (name)

    Sincerely,

    Sign your name


    Take the letter and an envelope (school stationary makes a statement) over to the student. In private show the letter to the student (filled in). Calmly fold the letter and insert in envelope. Write slowly To the parents of Student's Name on outside and seal. Say in a calm but firm tone, "If I see no more of this behavior the rest of the period you may, in front of me, tear up this letter and throw it away. If, however, I see any of this behavior between now and the end of the period this letter will be going home even if I have to hand delivery it." Tape the letter, parent names up, to the top corner of student's desk or if no desk tape it to binder, book, backpack etc. in plain sight.
     
  9. Joy

    Joy Cohort

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    Jan 3, 2013

    Good idea! Right now, I have figured out who the group considers the "dorky" kids. There are about four of those. Part of me feels bad that those kids have to deal with other kids being mean and part of me feels that they are better off not to be included in the clique. I also have lunch duty with this group of kids everyday so that gives me more opportunity to observe. It's also not just boys acting this way. The boys act bad over singing but the girls are always rolling their eyeballs, talking about their boyfriends, and being rude and lazy.

    The only teacher from the entire school that doesn't have a problem is the band teacher and that's because the worst kids are not in band so the entire group acts better. When I talk to her about them, she goes on about how she can't believe they would act that way because they are such nice kids. Now I need to double check with her on who isn't in band so that can help me know who is instigating everything.
     
  10. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Jan 3, 2013

    I have had so many years of 5th grade horrors that I almost couldn't even read through your post. But, there are measures that can help, though you'll have to see which might be applicable to your students. Here are a few ideas:

    Identify the students who are disruptive. Have them work standing/sitting/singing right next to you, preferably facing away from the others. Tell the kids that don't want to contribute artwork that they don't have to do so, but that their names will not be included in credits at the end and they won't be able to participate in a reward celebration for the artists. It's too late now, but when you begin rehearsals for a show, send a note home to parents (email would be better) outlining the types of participation requirements you expect. Follow up with updates to inform parents how their children are doing.

    Before even planning a program or show, work on the behaviors and attitudes that disrupt class. You can sometimes deflate the power of negative behaviors by having those students demonstrate the types of behaviors that are disruptive. Then you have control over the class, rather than the disruptive students using behaviors to control the class.
     
  11. CindyBlue

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    Jan 3, 2013

    I agree with all of this except taping it to somewhere the student can get to it. I'd tape it to my blackboard, or my podium, or keep it anywhere the student can't have access to it, or you may find it has disappeared by the end of class with the student and you have to write it all over again. I'd tell the student that it's up to him/her to see me right after class, and if he/she doesn't, then it gets mailed.
    The other option is to send the misbehaving kids to the office. The more years I teach, the more I firmly believe that a few shouldn't ruin it for the rest, and that teachers can't "do it all" themselves, they need to be supported by the administration. I'd keep throwing them out at the slightest infraction, until they and the others get the message that you are serious. Also - if they don't get the message about how to behave in the classroom in fifth grade, think how bad it will be for them in high school. The need to learn this very important lesson now, for their own benefit.
     
  12. Joy

    Joy Cohort

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    I totally agree. Part of the reason that this class has gotten away with so much is that I've been told that they were known as the "bad" class since Kindergarten. They've been the class that everyone has dreaded. I think because they are the "bad" class though, they actually end up getting away with more. I know that I can't probably fix everything with them since I don't even see them everyday but I intend to try to fix as much as I can. This has been a busy school year and apparently I'm going to need to get even busier. I am secretly thinking that I can't wait for them to go to sixth grade though!
     
  13. Joy

    Joy Cohort

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    Jan 3, 2013

     
  14. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    That seems like a big piece of the puzzle too - that some of the kids are significantly better behaved in a different environment without specific kids present. definitely suggests that there are certain kids who instigate situations.
     
  15. CindyBlue

    CindyBlue Cohort

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    Jan 4, 2013

     
  16. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Jan 4, 2013

    I teach 5th grade as well. Each year they are very different depending on who their leaders are. If the leaders are difficult students in the class, you must deal with them. I'd first talk with them one on one and let them know what behavior you expect, and that if you don't get the specific behavior you are asking for, that parents will be called. If the misbehavior doesn't stop call parents immediately. Explain the situation and what needs to stop. Explain that you'd like to keep them in touch if the behavior improves or not. Set up a time each week where you call them for a minute to let them know (example: 4:00pm each Thursday.) This has worked really well for me in the past. It is the greatest use of 1 minute I have all week to stop misbehavior. If the parent is chatty use e-mail instead.

    I'd also talk to these boys. The one thing that boys often care about at this age is looking cool. The boys who feel they don't sing well absolutely hate singing. I kid you not that some boys are more embarrassed to sing in public than for a girl to wear a swim suit in public in junior high. Looking cool is everything to some boys and if a boy thinks you are going to make them look dumb by singing, well they'll make sure they will sing funny or whatever they need to do to still look cool.
    What to do about this?

    1. Compliment the boys on the singing.
    2. Don't point out publicly a boy that sings incorrectly.
    3. Choose songs they are comfortable with.
    4. Make sure they sing in a large group where they will be less conscious of their voices.
    5. Is there anything else they can do but sing? I always have a boy or two that I have play an instrument or introduce the songs. I find that many outgoing boys who are embarrassed about singing are often good public speakers and love to do the talking parts of the program. This has worked well. In our past Christmas program, where one 5th grade boy who politely told me he didn't want to sing, I made him the narrator. He was great at it.

    I agree with the posts that you don't need to put up with any misbehavior. Be willing to give out consequences, talk to parents, but also work with those boys. I think the combination of those three should help you in the tough situation you find yourself in at your school.
     
  17. Joy

    Joy Cohort

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    I have tried a lot of different things with getting these boys to sing and sing correctly. I have complimented the ones who do it right, I've complimented them as a group, I've ignored the silly singing, and I've come right out and told them to stop. I realize that it is hard for them and they don't want to look dumb. I've never made this group sing solos I've only asked them to sing as a group so far. I do think however, that the class can work on things that they feel they are not the greatest at. The concert will include other parts than singing but this is a big portion of the concert and should be.

    Today, I decided to go a different direction with the problems. Our school is really big into "re-teaching." If a student does not follow expectations, they will come back during their free time for re-teaching on how to do it correctly. This system does not work on warnings. Once the expectations are explained, there is no warning. I decided to review my expectations on singing and explain that if a student sang in a silly voice that was not their own (we talked about what that would be) or did not sing at all, that student would come back for re-teaching on how to sing correctly. It seemed to help today. While that was enough for today, I'm sure that next time I will have several students that will need to come back for re-teaching.

    It seems dumb but even though I've been using this process for behavior, I never thought of using it on these boys with their singing. Obviously the singing problem has started to affect class behavior so the re-teaching should be used. I just need to be tough and consistent now!
     
  18. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Jan 4, 2013

    The "re-teaching" is a strategy worth investing. It keeps discipline in-house, between you and students, before involving other adults, e.g., principal, parents. If discipline is going to happen it should come from you. Otherwise, you may be in for a long, difficult career waiting for the "good class" to show up.
     

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