Thursday, April 17, 2014

What to Do About ... Students Who Seek Attention

Advice from Real Teachers

Each Wednesday at 8:30 pm EST, I post a call for teacher questions on my Facebook page. I review the questions and choose a few to feature on Facebook each day, where you're invited to chime in with your advice. When I see a post that receives a large number of responses, I compile the best answers to create a helpful blog post. Doing that means your great advice doesn't get lost in Facebook land!

Today's Question

Today's question comes from Anne, who asks, “I have a second grade student who at this point in the year still interrupts class. He has the need to always be right and be heard constantly. The other children get very antsy when he starts up. Any thoughts?”

Many of you weighed in with really great answers, and I'm sharing some of the best below.

  1. Sonya Callaway Adamson: I have a few students in my class that are always eager to be the first to speak, answer, interrupt. I've found that they have the knowledge and want to share, or are bored because, "Hey, I already know this lets do something else." Sometimes they need movement and sitting isn't for them. Now I incorporate into my plans things they can help me with... One now sits at computer and clicks the mouse for me so I can teach and help those at the front of the room.
  2. Shara Rivers: When I was a kid I was like that....I got no attention and wanted so badly to feel important. I had one teacher that I will never forget. He made me the official writer on the board and always took time to talk to me. He was a light in a dark place in my childhood when I felt pushed aside by so many other teachers.
  3. Ben Phillips: Provide lots of opportunities within the lesson for kids to talk to each other. He sounds like a bright, eager learner to me although the behavior is problematic and annoying. Maybe if he gets to share with a partner he will blurt out less. His behavior in some way may be a signal that you are talking too much.
  4. Katie Johnson Abbott: Tell him to use a notebook to write down anything he wants to say to you. Then at the end of the day, review the notebook and give him a little attention. Probably the only reason he interrupts anyway.
  5. Jennifer Hinds Larsen: How about giving him a job where he is in charge of something important in the classroom during the day?
  6. Hollee Miller Morrow: I had a second grader who constantly interrupted my lessons this year. I started a system where I put a tally mark on the board when he would interrupt. When he got to 5, he knew there would be a consequence, one I knew would affect him. He rarely interrupts anymore. It's not fair to the rest of the class for one student to be garnering all the attention and taking away from the learning of others. Find out what motivates him and make the loss of that his consequence. You will be teaching him a life skill that will benefit him throughout his life. Also, tell him that when you notice he is not interrupting, you will call on him.
  7. Alder Aka-lee: It depends on why exactly he is needing all this attention, if it's coming from a need to feel special, I would try something like giving him a djembe drum, you do this and make it clear it is his and he is in charge of it but lay clear ground rules for when it is to be used, eg when applauding, if you need a drum roll, during music or at recess and lunch. It gets rid of allot of excess energy and makes him feel important. If you have trouble with other students asking why he gets it you can do a term by term rotation and hopefully a term will be enough to condition these behaviours. If interrupting or anything like that continues take it away and give to another student for a week or until misbehaving subsides. Good luck!
  8. Rose Treacy: I'm also a second grade teacher and have many students like this. With the most significant, I have put them on different behavior contracts based on their needs. For one he tallied on a sticky note on his desk each time he blurted out (I sometimes mimed making a line if he didn't do it independently) and we had a goal. If he met the goal he got a reward. I have another student who does a certain amount of work or time and then he can tell me one thing. It's been effective to decrease his random blurt outs. I also recently found a book called, Interrupting Chicken we are going to read it tomorrow as a class (first day back from spring break) and go over classroom expectations as a group. Another great book for interrupting is called My Mouth is a Volcano by Julia Cook.
  9. Shimona Moloney: I had a pupil who constantly interrupted my lessons with off topic questions. I made 20 question tokens and explained to him that he had 20 tokens for the day and would need to give me a token if he wanted to ask the unrelated question. When he would raise his hand to ask a question I would remind him that he would need to give me a token and I would ask him if he really wanted to ask his question. Within 3 days he was down to 10 question tokens and within 2 weeks he only asked relevant questions and did not interrupt lessons any differently than the average child.
  10. Karen Johnny Martz: Ignore the urge to reinforce the negative behavior and reinforce the positive. Teach sign language to all your students that reflect a question, comment, answer, restroom, water, wait a minute, etc. As long as you continue to stop and focus on the behavior you want changed, it won't. Consistency and patience with yourself and your students, along with positive reinforcement will help them to know how to get acknowledgement.
  11. Sariah Gilstrap: I like to give a pad of Post-It notes to interrupters. I tell them to write down their exciting thoughts instead of interrupting the class (and we talk about how their behavior affects others) and that I'll read them all at the end of the day. It usually helps! If they start interrupting again, I redirect them to write it on a post it.
  12. Amanda McAllister: In my experience Whole Brain Teaching really helps with minimizing those students who call out all the time. It gives them the outlet they need in order to talk!
  13. Tanya Abbey: Do you have a time set aside each day where the children can ask questions about things that they are interested in that are off topic from what you are learning? Or a question time related to the topic you are teaching after you have done the planned lesson? Then instead of denying him the chance to ask questions you can remind him that he can save it for question time. Instead of being a problem, this child may be your best asset in keeping a 'question time' going that all of the kids can benefit from as it sounds like he doesn't really run out of questions. Then you can also see what the children are interested in finding out more about and extend on that in your lesson planning or find ways to use these interests to teach what you were planning on teaching.
  14. Katy Cole: Make sure you do not make your frustrations known to the students. They will absorb your feelings and shun the child. Teachers need to understand this and 99% do not realize the torment it has on children. Try giving the child an outlet for the talking like before or after a long lesson he can tell a joke. Give him jobs to do like keep tallies or make a chart.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to answer this question. Your advice and experience is helpful to so many others.

If you would like to submit a teacher question, be sure to watch for the announcement on Wednesday evenings at 8:30 pm ET on the Teaching Resources Facebook page

Great Questions + Advice from Real Teachers = The Question Connection! Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Interactive Notebooks – Let’s Get Started!

Guest post from Valerie Young

I'm Valerie from All Students Can Shine and I'm here to tell you all about interactive notebooks!

I started using these in my classroom this year and I would have loved to have all my questions answered before I got started.

If you haven't given these a try yet, or if you would like to perfect your use of interactive notebooks, this post is for you!

What are Interactive Notebooks?

Interactive Notebooks (IN) are your students’ “go to” resource, where they can refer back to any concepts that have been taught in class. It’s a more interactive way to take notes!

As the year goes on, students add pages to their notebook and refer back to them when studying or when they need to review a concept and/or skill. They are basically building their own textbook as the year progresses.

IN are a great tool for teachers! They help us reflect on both our students’ learning styles and our own teaching and planning. They are a great way to analyze our students’ understanding of new concepts. In turn, we can use the knowledge that we gain from the IN to create, plan, and manage our small group instruction. We can also use this information to make accommodations and modifications for all students, not only those on individual learning plans. Observation during the IN process is a great time to take notes on students’ learning, questions that may arise, and skills that they may be struggling with. This helps with further planning and teaching.

Tips for Starting Your Students’ Interactive Notebooks

  • Have your students create and decorate their own covers to make the book their own.
  • Save the first few pages for the table of contents. Fill in those pages every time you add a new interactive activity to the book.
  • Ask your students to NUMBER their pages in order to be able to use their table of contents effectively.

When Do I Use IN In My Classroom?

It’s up to you! I suggest that you dedicate the same teaching period every week in order to stay on track. However, this may not work for you. If you are using the IN for math, you might want to have your students complete the page at the beginning of a unit. For example, the measurement page should be completed at the beginning of your measuring unit. This way, students can refer back to their notebook if needed. Remember, this is a tool that students should be using to clarify concepts.

How Much Time Does It Take?

That really depends on you, your class, and how much time you are willing to put into this. Start small and go from there. The more you students get familiar with using their notebooks, the easier it will get and the faster they will be with the cutting and gluing. If you spend lots of time teaching them the rules and procedures at the beginning of the year, the better they will be at it down the line.

The BEST Tip That I Ever Got Regarding IN?

Keep a pocket at the front of every student’s notebook!

This way, if they are not finished with an activity, they will have a place to store their loose pieces!

I always display a model of the page we are working on. This helps students by giving them a reference to look at when they are working on their page. It saves you time because you can now concentrate on more important things such as helping students with the writing component.

If the flaps are small and they are required to write under them, I suggest that they trace the flap once it is glued in their notebook. This way, their traced line will create a boundary for their writing.

When cutting and gluing, ask students to keep all their scraps ON THEIR DESK in order to avoid them looking for missing pieces that may accidentally make their way to the recycling bin!

What Do I Need To Get Started?

All you need is a simple copy book for each student! There are plenty of interactive notebooks available online. Just do a quick search on the web, or on Teachers Pay Teachers, and you are sure to find what you need!

Make Sure Your Students Are...

Proud of their work! That's what is most important!

If you students create something that they are proud of, they are more likely to use it as their "go to" resource!

I hope I have answered all your questions. Feel free to leave me comments or questions. I love to keep in touch!

If you like the notebook page that you see featured in this post, you can grab yourself a free copy HERE.

A big THANK YOU goes out to Laura for giving me the opportunity to guest blog!

Valerie Young teaches grade one in a small town north of Montreal, Canada. She's passionate about using technology in the classroom, as well as using teaching methods that involve movement and hands-on learning. She blogs at All Students Can Shine


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Making the Most of Math Homework

A Bright Ideas Link Up Post

Is homework effective? Educators seem to be evenly split on this question. Some insist that homework is essential because students need to review and practice skills at home. Others argue that it's a waste of time and a burden on families, especially when some parents are not willing or able to help with homework. Even worse, some parents who genuinely want to help may teach the skill incorrectly, causing you to have to reteach it the next day.

Math Homework Tips
Personally, I feel that homework can be very effective, especially in math, if you keep these tips in mind:
  • Before assigning homework, make sure the majority of your students are at least somewhat proficient with the skill so they can experience success at home. 
  • Keep homework assignments short and to the point. Why assign 30 problems if all they need is 5?
  • Only assign homework to those who need it. If a student has mastered a skill with 100% accuracy, why should he or she have to do the homework? 
  • Only assign homework to those who will benefit from it. If they don't have a clue about how to complete the problems, homework on that skill is a waste of time. Furthermore, the resulting feelings of frustration can negatively impact the way students feel about math. Instead, differentiate the assignment by giving those students something easier or deferring the assignment until after they receive more help at school.
  • Consider the level of parent support and your students' home environments. If the majority of them will not be able to get help at home, and are more worried about where their next meal is coming from than the day's assignment, you may want to greatly reduce the homework load.
  • Rather than collecting homework and grading it, simply check off whether or not the student attempted ALL problems. Start each class period with a review and discussion of the previous day's work. Expect students to be able to explain HOW they solved their problems, and don't give them credit for the work if they can't explain it.

Quick Checks: Who Needs the Homework?

You might be wondering how to figure out which kids will benefit from the homework assignment. It's actually a pretty simple task if your students have dry erase boards. If they don't, you can substitute quarter sheets of scrap paper. At the end of each class, do a 5-minute Quick Check. This formative assessment will help you decide who gets what homework. 

Tell students that if they get 100% correct on the Quick Check,they won't have to do the math homework that night!

Here's how to do a Quick Check:
  1. Post four or five problems on a flip chart or on the board.
  2. Ask students to work the problems out on paper and transfer their answers to a dry erase board. If they are seated close together, have them put up barriers like notebooks or folders for privacy.
  3. Tell your students that they will have only ONE chance to show you their boards and try to earn their way out of the homework assignment. If they make even one careless error, they will have to complete the homework! Stick to your guns on this one!
  4. Ask students flip their dry erase boards face down when they are ready for you to check answers. 
  5. Walk around the room with a checklist, and quickly peek at each board. Write the score on the student's board and record it on your student checklist. Keep this list so you can refer to it the next day when checking off homework.
  6. Give your students a reasonable amount of time for the work, but there's no need to wait until all children finish. If it takes them a long time, they need more practice at home.
  7. After most students are finished, review the assignment and discuss each problem so students understand the ones they missed. 
  8. Post the homework assignment, and be sure the students who scored 100% know they are excused from doing the work. 
Benefits of Quick Checks
Quick Checks are tremendously motivating for students. They encourage kids to do their very best work by providing an incentive to eliminate careless errors. These short formative assessments keep you in touch with how the class as a whole is doing as well as how individual students are grasping the concept. Based on what you see on the boards, you may decide not to assign any homework at all because too many students are still struggling with the concept.

Someone once told me that the saying, "Practice makes perfect," isn't completely correct. If you practice something incorrectly, it's worse than not practicing at all! Only perfect practice makes perfect! To make the most of math homework, only assign it to those who will benefit from it, and expect your students to be able to justify their answers in your homework review session. 

More Bright Ideas!
This post is one of 150 Bright Ideas blog posts in a huge link up! Take a look at the terrific topics below and click any link for another bright idea! You can also find these posts on the Bright Ideas Pinterest board which has hundreds of fantastic posts!

If you liked these tips, please follow Corkboard Connections on BlogLovin to be sure you receive my posts and updates by email. You can also follow me on Facebook and at my TpT store where you'll find more free resources!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Solving the Hand Raising Problem

Advice from Real Teachers

Today I'm excited to introduce a brand new blog series called Advice from Real Teachers

Every Wednesday at 8:30 pm EST, I'll post a call for teacher questions on my Facebook page. I'll review the questions and choose a few to feature on Facebook each day, and you'll be invited to chime in with your advice. When I see a post that receives a large number of responses, I'll compile the best answers to create a helpful blog post. That way your great ideas won't get lost in Facebook land!

Today's Question
D'Anna asked for advice about how to handle students who raise their hands constantly while she's giving instructions. She can't deliver the lesson and asked for ideas for dealing with this situation.

There were so many great responses to D'Anna's question - 175 in all! It was tough narrowing it down to just a few, but here are 15 responses that I think you'll find helpful.
  1. Peggy Seals: I have 2 very anxious seventh grade students that used to do this. I solved the problem by giving them a sticky note privately when they come in and instructing them to write down their questions. If I did not answer their questions during my lecture time they could ask me privately after class. I told them their questions are important but it's also important to all the students to have uninterrupted time during the lecture. Worked like a charm!
  2. Betsy Page: I have 11th graders. I hold up 1 finger for them to wait a minute. If they blurt out, stop talking and VERY dramatically say, "If you have something that you think absolutely CANNOT wait until I finish, raise your right hand (brief pause for the half-dozen hands to go up) and place it firmly over your mouth." :D
  3. Beth Pearson: At the beginning of the year, I tell students when your hand is up, your brain is off. You are thinking about what you want to say or ask. I need you thinking about what I am saying. When they raise their hands, I say, "Hand up, brain off," and then go on with my lesson. You have to also train yourself to NOT answer or call on those students. If you do, the students won't believe you and will keep raising their hands. It all goes back to consistency.
  4. Erin Rainey: We have signals for "I have a connection (to the story or what someone said)" "I agree" "I disagree" and "I'm confused." It helps me instantly know whether I need to address their comment or not, and it helps them develop metacognitive skills to identify why on earth they are raising their hands to begin with.
  5. Sonia Freeburg Kunze: Give them sticky notes to write their questions on while you are doing direct instruction. When you are ready for questions, they won't forget them and sometimes the questions get answered before they can ask!
  6. Stephen Richardson: I used sign language. I used an 'h' to show that they needed help, an 'r' for restroom, a 't' if they wanted to tell/share something, and an 'a' if they wanted to give an answer to a question that had been asked. This let me have some idea of what the kids wanted.
  7. Tara Gann: I keep talking and push my hand in a downward angle to show them to put their hand down. They might not catch on at first but after a while they realize I am not going to answer their question while talking. It is an easy and polite way to handle the situation while not interrupting the lesson.
  8. Sandra Revie: Proactively I read My Mouth is a Volcano (Julia Cook) and then I teach that if they are thinking about something they want to say, asking a ton of questions, or blurting they are not getting all they can get from a lesson because their brains are not focused on what I am teaching. Most of my students get that. However, for the few that do not (and those who just love to interrupt), I give them 2 craft sticks per lesson. That gives them 2 questions, interruptions, or connections per lesson. They have to hand me one to speak. When they're gone so are their chances to speak during the lesson.
  9. Lindsey Bingley: I teach 4th grade and I give my kids a "blurt" book, a small notebook to write down their thoughts and questions in, so that they don't forget them and can wait until the right time to ask questions or make a connection.
  10. Matthew Arrua: Use a ruler and tape a red circle and a green circle to either side. Tell them that they cannot ask questions while the red light is up. It allows for thinking time. Works great.
  11. Clare Coynel: Give pupils a minute at the end to talk in pairs or trios about what they've learned and what the follow up task is, so they learn to support one another and don't rely on me all the time. Also helps kids who find it hard to remember a lot of info/instructions if they know they'll have peer support without it being obvious to the teacher every time that they're unsure.
  12. Jennifer Gil: Say, "if you're going to tell a story about something, there is not time for that right now." You'll see the hands drop like flies. Follow it up with, "If you have a question, you can still ask it."
  13. Megan Holt: Question flags ... you get a certain number per lesson so save them ... when you want to ask a question you hold up your flag and it is taken away as your question is answered.
  14. Lynne Nowicki: Remember that while your instruction and information is important, students do best when the learning is student directed. Maybe if you are being interrupted a lot, you should consider a way for the students to be involved in the learning.
  15. Laura L. Letts-Wright: Have a parking lot. A place where students can post their questions that the teacher can answer later. Students can place sticky notes in a certain area, and have their questions answered by the end of class. If the question just cannot wait then the student can use a special signal to give the teacher. 
Thank you to everyone who took time to answer this question. Your suggestions are so helpful to other teachers such as Mary  who said:
I am so grateful for this question. I just graduated in May with my education degree and I've been subbing ever since, and I never even considered this. This happened to me today. A kid had a question which had absolutely nothing to do with what I was talking about. I'm thrilled somebody asked this question. Thank you, D'Anna.
And Melissa:
I love this page because as a student teacher I get to hear different situations that I have or could encounter in my classroom, and then all of these experienced teachers give great advice that have worked for them in their own classrooms. I enjoy reading these. Keep them up please! It helps me!! Thank you teachers!
If you would like to submit a teacher question, be sure to watch for the announcement on Wednesday evenings at 8 pm ET on the Teaching Resources Facebook page

Great Questions + Advice from Real Teachers = The Question Connection! Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Question Connection: Advice from Real Teachers

Connect and Collaborate on Facebook

When I first started teaching I was full of questions, and I continued to have questions when I tried new strategies or ran into difficulties. It used to be that we could only seek help from educators we knew personally, but thanks to the Internet, its easy to ask hundreds or even thousands of teachers for advice!

Facebook has become a key player in the game of collaboration, and over the last few years I've seen teachers connecting and collaborating in groups and on pages to help each other. Lately I've been posting Facebook requests for teacher questions and within an hour there will be dozens of questions asked. I repost one or two of the questions each day to all 380,000+ fans, and I'm always amazed at the spirit of collaboration as others jump in to help.

The Question Connection
To make it easier for teachers to ask and answer questions, I'm starting a regular feature every Wednesday called the Question Connection. At 8:30 pm EST, I'll post a call for teacher questions on my Facebook page. Here's how to participate:
  1. Visit the Teaching Resources Facebook page and be sure you have liked it. Then hover over the Like button at the top and be sure that the words "Get Notifications" are checked. 
  2. Look for my Question Connection post every Wed. at 8:30 pm EST.
  3. Respond by asking an education-related question in a comment below the post. Provide details about your situation and grade level that will help others respond, but don't reveal too much personal information about your school or students. 
  4. If you see a question that interests you and you want me to repost it to the group, click the Like link under the question.
  5. If you have an answer or an idea to share in response to a question, use the reply feature to share your suggestion. If you are on a mobile device and don't see the reply feature, use the @ symbol in front of the person's name when you reply to tag him or her in your response.
I'll review the questions and post the ones that seem most relevant to the followers of the page.Those questions often receive over 100 responses! When selecting the questions, I'll consider the number of likes on each question as well as the grade level and topic.  Follow me on Facebook and be sure to watch for your question to be shared!

What to Ask
Feel free to ask about anything related to teaching or the education profession, but please don't ask something that you can easily Google yourself. Ask the types of questions you would ask a trusted colleague. Here are a few ideas to get  you started:
  • Share an upcoming lesson topic and ask others to recommend great resources and teaching ideas that have worked for them
  • Ask for advice about classroom management, parent communication, dealing with difficult situations at school, etc.
  • Ask how other teachers are using technology or specific websites

Responding to Questions
Questions are only one half of the Question Connection! We also need educators who are willing to answer questions and share ideas. Don't be shy about responding! When you see me repost a teacher question, think about your own teaching experiences to see if you can make a connection. Even if you have only been teaching a few weeks, you have learned valuable information that can benefit others. Share your successful teaching strategies, links to free resources on the internet, book recommendations, helpful advice, or best classroom practices. The only thing I ask is to refrain from self-promotion or providing links to your own teaching products.

Advice from Real Teachers
I love reading all of the responses to each question, and it concerns me that after a few days all of that great advice is lost in Facebook land, never to be found again. So later this week I'm introducing a new blog series called "Advice from Real Teachers." When I see a question that receives a massive number of responses, I'll ask Facebook fans to help me select the top 10 or 15 comments to share here on Corkboard Connections.

If you ever feel hesitant to ask a question or respond with a suggestion, remember that your collaborative efforts benefit many, many other educators. Your question may spark a great discussion that leads to someone else learning a new strategy or discovering an amazing resource!

Great Questions + Advice from Real Teachers = The Question Connection! Enjoy!

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