getting the class quiet!

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by matherine, Dec 4, 2011.

  1. matherine

    matherine Rookie

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    My one class has such a hard time getting quiet when class starts. They all have a warm-up to do that I collect after 5 minutes, but this still doesn't do a lot to get the talking to stop. I've tried counting down from 5 to get their attention, but they don't respond to this signal. I've also put a timer up on the smart board and let it run until they are ready to listen. This is time that they lose from lunch and it USED to work really well, but now the students have the mindset that they lose their lunch time every day, so what's the point in trying to get quiet quickly. Any other ideas? If I could just get them to listen to directions for a few minutes the rest of class would go so much better!
     
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  3. roxstar

    roxstar Companion

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    Dec 4, 2011

    Try going a more positive route. I think you have it right when you say they have been conditioned that they are going to lose their privilege anyway so why bother. Try having them EARN time for a fun activity. Start them off with a few minutes so they already feel like they have a chance. Give them a set amount of time and if they finish before time is up, they can "bank their minutes." Or you can just say if they are quiet and working they earn a minute. That's what I do. I won't lie and say that it always works to perfection, but I do find that it is much more effective than the negative. I got the idea from a book called Tools for Teaching. It's called PAT (preferred activity time.) Good luck!
     
  4. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    These are some of the things I've tried and they all worked pretty well.

    I do hand them a warm up as they come in (I'm standing at the door), but sometimes they still forget thatás time to be quiet. So:

    - simply say: I really need you guys to start working quietly, without talking - works about 50 % of the time
    - if they're really loud, and just me, staring at them or asking them to be quiet doesn't work, I suggest that we go line up outside and come back in again, having a new start. I've done this in middle schools when I was subbing, with some of the rough classes, I didn't actually suggest, I've mad them do it. This worked every time I did it, but didn't do it too often. At the school I am (juvenile detention) I only have to suggest, because they don't want the officers to see them sent out to line up.

    - what has really worked for me lately is this: they can earn 4 minutes / day for their earned p.a.t. (free time). i used to determine at the end of the class how much they earned, but I started to to draw a box with 4 lines in it, on the board. Each line was for 1 minute. So they start with 4 minutes of earned time, they simply just have to keep it, and not loose it. When they wouldn't listen, I would walk to to the board and erase 1 line. I started to just erase a half a line, and it was so funny, that these guys would really get to their senses over losing 30 seconds of free time! Now we're at the point, that all I have to do is look at the board and start walking towards it, and all student get quiet, with some of the loud ones telling everyone to act right. It's pretty funny, that guys, who have been convicted for assault, etc, can really care about losing 30 seconds of free time. I don't have to do this a lot, and a lot of times I follow through with erasing the line, if I've really had enough.
    This is something I use throughout the class, and it works great for the beginning or during.
     
  5. matherine

    matherine Rookie

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    Thanks so much. Another 7th grade math teacher at my school quit a few months into the year because his kids were so poorly behaved and his replacement is having a huge amount of success with managing by focusing on creating a positive classroom environment. He does things like having the class cheer when 80% of the class gets a question right, taking time each day to share good things that are happening in each student's life, etc. I'm really wanting to find more ways that I can also create a positive classroom environment since writing all these referrals for behavior really isn't making a difference for most kids. If anyone else has advice to share along these lines I would welcome it!

    Do you do a fun activity every day or once a week? Another teacher at my school does PAT on Fridays, but I feel like the students might have trouble with having to wait a whole week to get their reward for following directions at the beginning of class on Monday. I'm also curious what other kinds of rewards teachers use besides PAT. I've felt overwhelmed by the idea of PAT since the other teacher who uses it has a class set of board games for the kids to play during this time and I don't have any resources like that as a new teacher.
     
  6. matherine

    matherine Rookie

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    Thanks! I also tried the "lining up outside to start class over" method, but I think I used it too many times so the students stopped feeling like that was a major signal to change their behavior and more like a chance to waste time by lining up really slowly.

    How do you structure your p.a.t. time?
     
  7. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    You can tell them that whatever they earn, they can have on the same day, or they can save it up to Friday.
    4 minutes every day is really not that much, but 20 minutes on Friday is something they can really use. I also told them, that if they earn 20 minutes by Friday, I have no problem giving them another 10. You can tell them if they earn 4 minutes for the day, you'll add 1-2 minutes on top of it, but that doesn't sound like a big deal.
    If you give them the choice, they'll see what's better.

    During P.A.T is give them cards, dominoes, I bought some small puzzles, something they can put together in 10-15 minutes, not the 100 piece ones, but 25-50. Also bought a Rubik cube, and it was a big hit, so I had to buy more. My school reimburses me for these things.
    The students I have are 16-18 year boys. I do not allow them to write on paper, because all they will do is tag it with gang-style writing. I will bring them some art work they can color, or copy / draw. This might sound childish, but they're really good artists. I also have magazines and books, but it's only a big deal for this population, because they don't get to go home and read whatever they want.
     
  8. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    i also bought them chess and checkers, but they weren't into it.
     
  9. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I've learned that if you use a strategy too much, it may lose its effectiveness. It's good to be consistent, and if something works, keep it. I always try different things, and see how it works out. Some things I have to use sparingly, others will work first, then fade away, in that case I stop it.
    I think it's best to keep the same philosophy and consistently enforcing the rules, but having several tricks and strategies that you can pick and choose. Every class and every teacher is different, and often every days is different, so what worked yesterday, may not work today.
     
  10. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Check out the electronic Rubik's Cube! My kids LOVE it! I actually had to start hiding it because they couldn't wait to get to my room to mess with it. They were constantly creating competitions to see who could score the highest. The games are fast paced, so it's not difficult for 16-18 year olds to wait their turn, you know?
     
  11. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Observe carefully to see if talking starts entering room, finding seat, taking out materials and starting on warm-up, during warm-up or collecting warm-up. Often we intervene when noise finally gets to be too much and ignore the small disruption which set the dominoes in motion.
     
  12. roxstar

    roxstar Companion

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    Dec 4, 2011


    You don't need anything but your brain for them to use for PAT. I do it about once a week. There is really not a lot of time for me to fit it in with 52 minute classes and break-neck benchmarks. I'm a newbie too, this is my second year teaching and my first year in middle school. I use PAT a lot to review for tests and quizzes so I make review games for them. You can do jeopardy or something like that and you can get the powerpoint on line. If you have a smartboard, the smart exchange has tons of games you can do that are totally curriculum based. It's important to make sure that there is an academic basis for what you are doing but that it is also fun. THe kids are happy and you are still making good use of the academic day. I'm not sure what subject you teach, but this all works really well with math. A deck of cards can save your life! War is great for multiplication facts, and you can do least common multiple too. In the beginning because the kids are so challenging, you might want to block ten minutes each day for PAT. It will eat into your teaching, but as they get good at the procedure, you can start scaling it back to every other day and then once a week etc. I don't find it too hard to manage and I am pretty lazy! If takes too much time and effort for me to implement, I won't stick with it. It has thus far saved my life. Hope that helps!
     
  13. matherine

    matherine Rookie

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    I had math games on the Promethean Board ready to go for 10 minutes of P.A.T. today and it still didn't have any effect on my student's talking when class started. They lost their time (one minute at a time) in the first 10 minutes of class. I also tried being really positive and enthusiastically celebrating the students who were on task and in the right seat, but this also didn't help much. When class starts, the students enter the classroom single file, but there are many students who walk around the classroom and talk to friends instead of finding their seat. They lose their lunchtime for this, but like I said this consequence doesn't have much of an effect. Many of the "chronic walkers" have also had several referrals for being out of their seat and this has also not stopped the behavior. What can I do when it seems like none of my consequences have any effect?
     
  14. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    I love the idea of having free time and them simply losing it but if they don't then it's always there. I may have to try that with a couple of my classes!
     
  15. jamoehope

    jamoehope Companion

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    Dec 6, 2011

    I like all these ideas myself, I may need to resort back to positive reinforcement more than the avoidance of negative reinforcement (ie. detention, calling home) as it isn't working (they keep talking).

    My only note is the idea of giving PAT but then taking it away. Shouldn't the students be reinforced at least a little for the right behavior? Maybe let the behavior determine the amount of time?

    I'm thinking about having PAT in two segments--maybe one at the beginning after the warm up and the opportunity for another at the end if behavior is good.

    I noticed my students REALLY, REALLY liked a cryptogram I gave them last week in place of a warm up (we usually do pre-algebra review). Too bad cryptograms or other puzzles can't be used in place of pre-algebra all the time. :dizzy:
     
  16. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    The first PAT is free. The students do not have to do a thing to earn it. It is a "gift" from the teacher to the students for being ... um, students. The gift is usually 20 minutes and written on the board under the + column of PAT. The teacher explains how PAT works to the class and immediately launches into first PAT (planned in advance) so students can get the feel and flavor of a fun, learning related activity. At 20 minutes PAT stops, erased from chart, and a new "gift" of 20 minutes is posted. Students can add (+ side) to their 20 minutes by hustling during transitions, having correct materials, staying in seat, not leaving room (restroom) or any procedure the teacher wants done quickly and efficiently. Note: Be aware it is very easy to get stuck on the penalty side of PAT. It took me four tries before I got PAT right and was not relying on penalty to do discipline.

    Some teachers worry 20 minutes (or more) is a waste of valuable instructional time. When done correctly, PAT saves the teacher instructional time. In addition, many PAT activities are review or practice the teacher was going to do anyway.

    When to schedule PAT is determined not by grade level rather maturity level. Some classes can wait until Friday. Others need PAT every half hour. I didn't have any set day or hour. Instead I scheduled PAT as needed
     
  17. matherine

    matherine Rookie

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    Hmmm, I hadn't thought of giving them some PAT right away. Maybe that would help in my case for the kids to be able to experience it right away and then be more enticed to earn their PAT time later on. Since we've never done anything like this, it's probably hard for the students to buy into it without experiencing it.

    Can you speak more about "getting stuck on the penalty side" and what actions you took to keep from doing that? I feel like that's what happened to my PAT attempt.

    Thanks for the PAT tips!
     
  18. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    When i was student teaching (8th grade, English 2 classes-each loooooong periods) i had a hard time a lot of times, especially with one of the classes. My master teacher suggested p.a.t., because I wasn't doing any rewards until then. he said to d it where they do have the chance to earn a certain amount of minutes for Friday, at least 1 class. And then do something really awesome, make it fun, bring some candy (he suggested pizza-party, but I wasn't going to reward these students with all that, spending my hard earned money while they had been driving me insane). He said students talk, so even if I just do it with 1 class, the word will get out that it's worth it.

    i didn't want to do something so fantastic, that would be hard to outdo, but i did bring candy, and we made it a jeopardy game with grammar and vocab words. I had p.a.t. every week after that, it worked out pretty well, the student had something to work for.

    If you had a hard time getting them to buy into it, I would also suggest to give them a freebie, maybe not 20 minutes, but long enough for them to enjoy it.

    i do give earned p.a.t. (with my students i have to emphasize that it's earned, because a lot of other teachers give away 30-50 minutes of free time regularly and they kind of taking it for granted)
    I actually let them play cards, or dominoes (they still have to think, and learn social skills, how to get along and not to cheat, argue or fight) and I have some Rubik cubes, chess, checkers and puzzles. They can also read magazines or books, but the rule is that they have to be engaged in some kind of activity, they can't just sit around and talk.
    It's working out great, because the students love it, and I don't have to spend extra time in creating these activities.
     
  19. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Cheat. When starting out err on the + side. If you think students should be able to be in seats and on task in two minutes, give them three. If two students are still taking out supplies ignore them (discreetly) and post the saved time anyway. Ask everyone to hold up their pencil. If everyone has one give a "teacher bonus" of two minutes. If most have one give one minute. Tell class tomorrow you will check and everyone has two pencils they will earn two minutes.

    At the end of day one should see a bunch of minutes on the + side and none or few on the - . Frame of reference might be about 30 minutes for a typical PAT - 20 + 10 earned.

    I timed the student who sits farthest from the door on first day, pre PAT. It took him 2.4 minutes to be on-task. I told class I thought he could do better and timed him again. It took him 17 seconds. Seventeen seconds became benchmark but I told class anything under two minute would be added to PAT. On day three I told class it had to be under one minute. By third week of school everyone was able to enter and be on task in less than 30 seconds and I began to wean class off of need for PAT when entering.
     
  20. Milsey

    Milsey Habitué

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    I'm doing a points system, where if you accumulate a certain number of points, you get to go to my pizza party. It doesn't work with all the children, but more and more are getting their work done and staying in their seats. I have posted points in a prominent place in the classroom.
    Have you looked at your lessons? Boredom is one reason for bad behavior.
    I have been incorporating more laptop work into my lessons, They loved reading about the new Earth-like planet, Kepler 22b, and were so quiet and inquisitive I could have cried.
    What a far cry from Monday when a student pulled down another student's pants and two boys were chasing each other around the room.
     
  21. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Milsey, So on Monday you had no control and things turned around that quickly because of pizza and laptops? Be careful with food rewards...allergies and such. You'll also want to monitor laptop use...kids can quickly get onto inappropriate sites/play games while looking 'engaged in the lesson'. Do you attribute all the behavior issues you've had in the past to student boredom?
     
  22. Zabeth

    Zabeth Rookie

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    If you're really interested in doing PAT and learning to do it well, you might want to study Fred Jones' Tools for Teaching. As a substitute teacher, I haven't used it, but I think in your situation, in a classroom with really entrenched negative behaviors, it might be something to look into.

    Myself, I rather prefer Harry Wong's The First Days of School.

    Good luck -- you've got a lot of challenges on your plate!
     
  23. matherine

    matherine Rookie

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    Dec 13, 2011

    I just ordered a copy of Tools for Teaching. We've played a little bit of computer games in class and one class is becoming more motivated by the idea of getting to play them as a reward. The other class is still not changing their behavior. Today I was told that I won't be asked back next year if my classroom management doesn't greatly improve by March. With this news the quote "If you're falling off a cliff, you might as well try to fly since you've got nothing left to lose" has been rattling around in my head.
     
  24. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Dec 13, 2011

    Matherine, I'm glad you ordered Tools for Teaching. I read it the summer before I was going to teach fifth grade (after having taught kinder).

    I love that book. I also implemented PAT when I taught fifth (and kinder too!). It works really well.

    Good luck and feel free to bug us! We're here to help you.
     

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