signals for different requests (Harry Wong)

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by uscsoccer, Aug 9, 2012.

  1. uscsoccer

    uscsoccer Rookie

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    Aug 9, 2012

    I've been reading some Harry Wong, and he suggests having the kids use different signals for different requests- two fingers up to leave their seat, whole hand up for your help, etc. I've never seen anyone use these signals with kids older than elementary school, and am thinking that it's too young for middle schoolers. This is my first time with this age group, though. What do you all think?
     
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  3. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Aug 9, 2012

    I don't do that. Too much to remember. They just raise their hand and ask.
     
  4. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Aug 9, 2012

    Too much for me. There is enough to remember with regular stuff, much less hand signals. Plus, I've sometimes got as many as 35 kids in the room at a time.
     
  5. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Aug 9, 2012

    I read it and I'm definitely going to try it this year. I had a problem with students raising their hands during instruction and distracting everyone and me from teaching by asking to go the bathroom, sharpen pencils, get up to throw something away, or worse, just blurting out.

    Silent hand signals that I can respond to just as silently sounds like a great idea. My kids are middle schoolers, 8th graders actually, and yeah, they'll probably think its childish.

    But if I do it from the beginning, I'm assuming they'll eventually just forget about it being childish, and just start using the procedure. If not, oh well.

    I have 35 students in all of my classes, and it would just be impossible if half of them had their hands up for all different reasons and I didn't know if it was to legitimately ask for help or to use the bathroom or sharpen a pencil.

    Mine are:
    Fingers crossed - Needs to use the Bathroom
    Peace sign - I need help
    Holding a pencil up - I need to sharpen my pencil
    Holds up trash - I want to throw this away
    Regular raised hand - We're having a discussion and I want to contribute or ask a question about what we're learning

    My silent responses include thumbs-up (okay), or a wait signal (flat palm). Or I just go and help them, or call on them during the discussion.

    I think I'm going to create a poster like the one Harry has in his book.
     
  6. uscsoccer

    uscsoccer Rookie

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    Aug 9, 2012

    Thanks, everyone. I can definitely see advantages/disadvantages to it. I'm also going to talk to the others on my team and see what they do.
     
  7. linswin23

    linswin23 Cohort

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    Aug 9, 2012

    I am actually going to try and implement this as well. My thoughts are if it flops, it flops :)
     
  8. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Aug 10, 2012

    I tried it early in my career and found it more of a distraction than anything else. If it was done schoolwide I could see it working but my kids always had to check the poster and then figure out how many fingers to put up. They don't use the requests very often and only in my class so it wasn't automatic like other procedures were.
     
  9. Avalon

    Avalon Rookie

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    Aug 10, 2012

    Continuing instruction while silent signals are happening makes sense. I think this would work better in elementary, not so much because of the younger age, but because classes are more likely to be self-contained.

    I have large classes of 7th and 8th graders. My rule is you do not raise your hand or interrupt instruction unless you have a question or comment directly related to the instruction.

    Restroom use is allowed only in emergencies (they have a break every hour) and involves paying back the time at lunch. I don't allow them to get up for a drink (water bottles ok). Trash they must dispose of on their way out, after the bell rings - I model placing a sheet of paper quietly in the trash, and tell them they should not rip or crumble the paper. That may sound silly, but 32 kids ripping and crumbling can be quite a distraction! And they must each bring a hand-held pencil sharpener every day, along with 2 pre-sharpened pencils.

    Rules are looser during activity time. If we are cutting paper, I position waste cans near their tables, for instance, to facilitate clean up. Bathroom requests are ok during this time, still only for emergencies. Since I'm always circulating, they usually just wait till I get to their table.

    I make the procedures clear from the beginning, have random supply checks during the year, and hold them accountable.

    This may sound strict, but we actually have a lot of fun in my class. Almost every student tells me I'm their favorite teacher, and they tell other teachers and my admins the same thing. I have found that students are more productive and relaxed if they understand the rules and have a clear structure. I only have them for 53 minutes and feel I owe it to them to maximize their instructional time by limiting non-instructional disruptions.
     
  10. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Aug 11, 2012

    I like the idea of this, and I think it could work, but I wouldn't have more than 3 hand signals. Pick your 2 or 3 big issues (restroom, asking for help) and just deal with that. Maybe as the year progresses, you could add more once your kids have mastered it.

    Btw, I don't think that high schoolers will see this as too babyish at all. Some will, but those are the same kids who will complain about anything you do if you don't just let them do whatever they want.
     
  11. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Aug 11, 2012

    I'm just going to do restroom and water this year signs this year. I think the difference between raising your hand to discuss and raising your hand to ask for help is pretty obvious based on what we're doing. If we're having a whole group or small group discussion, obviously the kid raising his hand is wanting to participate and not wanting help, b/c the students shouldn't be working on anything on their own yet. If the students are working on an assignment on their own or in small groups, obviously a raised hand means they need help or have a question about the assignment.

    I think HS kids might find it babyish, but if you really want to do it, they'll adapt. Otherwise they're not going to be able to use the restroom (if they don't use the signal) so they'll figure out pretty quickly that they need to just get over it and use the signals!
     
  12. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Aug 12, 2012

    I agree. I think if I just highlight the trash and needing personal help ones (the only ones that involve fingers), the rest will come to them. I mean it's pretty intuitive to realize that holding up a pencil means you want to sharpen your pencil.
     
  13. Harper

    Harper Companion

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    Aug 12, 2012

    I have a few students who would make a spectacle of holding up their trash. Most trash can wait until end of class. If we are working on a project, trash cans are around and they are free to get up and use them. My only silent signal is for the bathroom.
     
  14. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Aug 12, 2012

    Good point. :eek:hmy:
     
  15. mkbren88

    mkbren88 Cohort

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    Aug 12, 2012

    I do hand signals for my kinders. 1 finger is for a drink, 2 is for bathroom and 3 is for a new pencil. It works well but we are still working on just raising their hands and not shouting out at the same time.

    I think the hand signals is a bit much for older kids. They really should have their own pencils and trash can wait until the end of class.
     
  16. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

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    Aug 12, 2012

    I love them for my third graders, but I can see how they would be difficult to institute when you only have the kids for a portion of the day. I have little signs that hang above my board, but the kids only need to refer to them for the first couple weeks. I use 1 finger for getting a pencil, 2 for tissue (I've had problems with kids hanging out by the kleenex box during instruction; this often gets relaxed depending on the group), 3 for water, 4 for restroom, and 5 for needing the teacher. 1 and 2 don't apply during independent work time.
     

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