Saturday 25 April 2015

10 Tips for Getting Your Class to Work Quietly AND Easter Activities

I thought is was about time to do a post on getting your students to work quietly.  Now don't get me wrong.  I don't think that my students should always be working in complete silence.  However I do think it is important that they get used to working for short periods of time in silence - with my students we start with a goal of about five minutes in September and we work up to about fifteen to twenty minutes as the year progresses.  My cue that they have reached their limit is when the talking begins again - then we move onto another activity.  There are many steps that I take into consideration when I am training them to work.  I will attempt to outline these in the post!! lol

Lead up to quiet work time: First I will teach the lesson and end with explaining the assignment.  Now, there are few things that may result in loud working time rather than quiet working time.  So if the following tips aren't working for you, take into account factors like... a full moon - I'm not kidding - kiddos get crazy around this time...a holiday/school theme day like Halloween or crazy hair day or Christmas break - these can impede quiet work time...students not understanding the concept or activity - in this case get the attention of your class and re-explain the assignment...time of day - if you students are tired or hungry either feed them or schedule quiet work time earlier in the day - I tend to avoid afternoons, period!

Ok - down to business!

Tip #1: Explain the assignment on the carpet and send students back to their desks one at a time with a statement such as, "Look how quietly Sally went back to her desk and got straight to work.  Who thinks they can do the same? Impress me!"  Do this a couple of more times until the class is all seated.

Tip #2: If your class is already seated, explain the assignment and quickly pass out the materials.  This is crucial - if it takes too long students will get restless.  Either have quiet (they don't talk with each person they hand the assignment to or wonder aloud who's book they are handing out - you may have to do some skits to demonstrate how to be a good hander-outer), efficient helpers hand out assignments or use some method so that assignments are in hand, ready for students to get to work.

Tip #3: Pencils and Erasers - I say, "Pencils and erasers!" and they repeat "Pencils and erasers!" three times - a little Whole Brain Teaching with the 3peat!  Then I say, "When I say pencils, you say erasers! Pencils!" Students: "Erasers!" Me "Pencils!" Students: "Erasers!" Me in a silly voice, "Pencils" Students in a silly voice, "Erasers!"

Tip #4: Chair Check - I say, "CHAIR CHECK!" and the students reply, "Check, check, check!" I say,  "Chair square, feet flat, helper hand holds!" and they repeat the same phrase.  I'm not exactly sure where I discovered Chair Check but I loved it so I thought I would make it into a chant!  The kids LOVE it!!  Here is a little freebie poster I made for the classroom!

Tip #5: Work!! Time for another Whole Brain Teaching 3peat!  I say, "Work!" and the students say, "Work, work, work!"  In the beginning of the year we talk about the importance of being a good student - students are at school to do school work, etc.  We talk about what a good student does and looks like.  Usually the "Work!" signal results in quiet, silent working!  It is wonderful!  I say these signals at quite a fast pace with a rhythm that doesn't leave much time for discussion and is quite structured.  With a routine like this over and over my students settle down and know my expectations without thinking.  It can still take some time to get to this point so here are a few more tricks.

Tip #6: If your students are still chatty use a timer and get their attention and tell the students that we will try to work silently for two minutes.  I say, "Hands up if you think you can do it!  On your  marks, get set, GO!!  Congratulate them when they have reached the time limit.  Increase the time limit each work period if they are successful.

Tip #7: The SUPER SECRET/AWESOME/BIG KAHUNA get your students to work quietly and have fun tip!  Teach your students the Distraction Game!  The rules are simple: If students get distracted from the work by turning and looking when there is something to distract them - they lose!  I usually point at them, smile, and say, "You lose! Everyone else wins!"   They LOVE it!!  Now comes the fun part - I get to create the distractions!  Sometimes I will pretend to tap dance, or I will say, "Look!  A flying elephant!" I will do anything to distract them from their work!  To this day they always ask to play the distraction game!

Tip #8: Once students are settled and working quietly, observe for the first minute or so but then allow them to work INDEPENDENTLY, without your help for at least five minutes.  Go to your desk, sip your coffee, check your e-mail, tidy the classroom, sort the pile of lunch order money still on your desk from the morning rush!!  This will begin to train those most needy to discover what it is like to work on their own.  Keep an eye on them - you can always tell the ones who need help or are not focused but give them the chance to problem solve without you - maybe they just need think time.  Maybe they can solve their problem without you.  They need to know they can exist for a short period of time without you standing over them - it is just too easy for them to ask you to solve their problems.

Tip #9: Allow students to get sharp pencils from the Sharp Pencil can, tissues, new crayons, etc. without having to ask for permission during silent work time.  This decreases interruptions and movement in the classroom.

Tip #10: Make it fun!!!  Compliment them on their fine work skills and tell them how you brag about them to other teachers about how quietly they work and for how long they can work for!  Students who are finished first must choose something to do in their desks - I tend to give them the iPad Mini's.  This is always a for sure distractor while the rest of the class works for as long as possible!

Hope this helps for all you teacher peeps!!  I know you have been working hard and after reading about some of your stories on Facebook regarding multiple principal classroom visits and state testing I am sending out the LOVE!!!

P.S. Just finished my Easter packet!  Give it a look see if you have a moment!!

first grade grade 1 religion packet

One of my students favourite activities was of course the hunt!!  I bought 3 mesh bags of those foil wrapped Easter eggs, hid them and then finished with a little math activity.  We had a blast!! Learning of course!!

religion grade 1 easter

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