I’m always excited at the start of a new year. There’s something about a new class full of students – the challenge to get to know them and their quirks; the challenge to inspire and excite them about learning; and the challenge to stay creative and forward-thinking in my teaching.
I spent 5 weeks in the USA – Montana – over the holidays and had a blast! I even managed to fit in a couple of school visits which were very interesting. Kiwi teachers would find US classrooms/teaching practise very different in many ways.
I’m heading off to Learning@School in a week or so – and am very excited to be able to meet up with some more people from my twitter and blogging lists. I was there in 2007 and met Allanah, Chrissy and Simon. I’ve since met Andrew, Suzie and Rachel at another conference. This time I hope to meet Erin, Heath, Amanda, Toni and some others at the Bloggers Cafe.
I’m also watching the bushfires very closely at the moment – my brother lives in Pakenham which is south-east of Melbourne and south-ish of the Bunyip fire – what an horrific loss of life and property – and I , like many teachers, have been thinking of the schools and the children who have been lost – and when they are able to start up the gaps in classrooms.
Today I decided to introduce the rules. Initially I intended to teach 2 rules and then the rest next week but the chn protested and begged me to teach them the rest of the rules.
There is an overarching rule “Respect Everyone” that fits right in with our class treaty that we wrote at the beginning of the year.
Then there are 5 rules:
Rule One: Follow directions quickly! (the gesture- make your hand shoot forward like a fish)
Rule Two: Raise your hand for permission to speak (the gesture- raise your hand and make a talking motion.)
Rule Three: Raise your hand for permission to leave your seat. (the gesture- raise your and, and then make a little walking figure with your index and middle finger.)
Rule Four: Make smart choices! (the gesture- tap one finger to your temple as you say each word.
Rule Five: Keep your dear teacher happy! (the gesture- hand over heart then make a smiley face (my adaptation))
I have them on laminated sheets as well. Rule 5 is kind of corny so what I did was tell them that it would make them laugh – and they could laugh for 15 seconds then they had to practice it. And that is exactly what they did! I explained that it’s an important rule because when I’m happy things go better in the classroom. When I’m not happy they don’t.
We practiced the rules for about 10 minutes when I first taught them; then we went through them again after lunch (we had a show after morning tea).
I also introduced Class-Yes. Although I already have a good verbal attention cue I wanted a shorter one – and this was perfect. All I told them was if I said Class they had to reply Yes. I didn’t need to talk about tone or pitch or anything like that – they’re fantastic at imitating.
What I noticed – very importantly for me – was that the two special needs children who spend 20-50 mins in my class in the morning (and who weren’t here yesterday) were joining in with the rest of the class (one is Downs and the other Autistic). The autistic boy who is in my class full time is slowly joining in – BUT – he understands what I’m doing – I just explain quietly to him if there is anything new or different.
Today, being Friday, we also had our sharing circle time. There are 3 boys who are always off task -fiddling with other kids treasures or squirming around on the mat. Today I told the kids that they could earn a smilie if they followed the circle rules. Those 3 kids did not do anything off task the whole time!
One of my twitter friends linked me to some youtube videos about Power Teaching and Learning. I’ve added this to the teaching reading comprehension I blogged about earlier this week and come up with some super dynamic stuff happening.
I introduced some of the power teaching techniques today in class and for the first time had one particular child 100% on task – for the first time this year! (we’re in week 34 of a 40 week school year!)
I used the teaching aspect in both maths and reading today In maths we’re just beginning to look at 3D-objects. I started by reminding them about 2D objects and how to describe them. Then i used Teach-OK and had them teach/remind each other about them. I moved on to 3D. We looked at a cube and in the 1-2 pairings i had them discussing what it might be called. Then they shared back what it was. Then i talked about the face, the edges and the corners. Then it was Teach-OK time again and away they went. I stopped them and told them that it was hard to tell who was doing what they had been asked to do so we would use gestures. Then back to Teach-OK time. Fantastic – i could see immediately there were two people off task.
In reading we were looking at a cover picture of an easy reader. First I reminded them about the two terms we used previously – ‘predict’ and ‘prior knowledge’ – then I used the Teach-Ok technique and had the children teaching each other what the two words meant.
So far i’ve introduced:
* Oh No/Oh Yes (instead of mighty groan etc)
I already had my own version of Class-Yes! (1,2,3 – eyes on me/1,2 – eyes on you which i sing/chant/rap or whatever comes out at the time)
We have a favourite game the children like to play and that will be reward for the Scoreboard (Silent Ball)
My children bounced out of the classroom at the end of the day buzzing about the fun learning we had today … that’s all I need to be sold on this.
I will continue to blog my progress as it happens …
The author of this technique (or one of the authors) Chris Biffle has some amazing stuff on his website, including free downloads – free if you follow his FAIR USE AGREEMENT.
FAIR USE AGREEMENT: Use any e-books below in exchange for sending evidence to Chris Biffle at CBiffle@AOL.com that you forwarded information about this website to 10 people along with a copy of this FAIR USE AGREEMENT.