Posts Tagged ‘Signals’

Seat Signals

Seat Signals are a clever way to keep the classroom pace ticking along smoothly and students focused with minimal distractions. Unfortunately, junior high kiddos aren’t exactly low-key with their needs, so it is important to create very low-key ways to take care of business and continue with the learning.

Raised Hand

Seat Signals- nonverbal ways students indicate to the teacher they need something without getting up from their desks.

  • Bathroom Visits- raise hand with hall pass out on desk to be signed.
  • Pencil Sharpening- hold up pencil in raised hand. Wait for teacher to visit desk and switch out student’s pencil for a sharpened one. Keep lots of sharpened pencils on hand. They can pick their pencil up at the end of class.
  • Tissue- raise hand and pinch nose with other hand.
  • Library Visits- hold up book in raised hand with hall pass out on desk to be signed.

All of these nonverbal requests should also be responded to nonverbally- either a nod of a head indicating a “yes,” a pencil or tissue handed to the student, or a hand signaling, “not now” or “in 5 minutes.”

You might be wondering why sharpen the pencils for the students…well, pencil sharpening is a loud and time consuming process. The sharpener in my class is attached rather high on a bookcase and its screws are loose so the whole thing wobbles. Naturally, the short kid without a steady arm gets a junk pencil every time. I’m just going to take it down and buy an electric sharpener for my desk, just for me to use!

Notice that for trips outside the classroom, the students have hall passes which must be signed. They receive these passes at the beginning of the year- 3 for each week. Once they use them, it’s too bad, so sad. This is a school-wide technique and I really love it. The students must learn to conserve passes and not use them all up on Monday. If your school doesn’t do something like this, try initiating it on your own! It’s very clear-cut and there is no ground for confusion.

Calling to Order

Bugle Boy

When watching movies (most likely Disney cartoons), have you ever noticed the spiffy bugle boy who signals for the crowds of peasants to stop what they are doing and listen up, because the powerful king has something to announce? Well I have, because I want to hire that bugle boy for my classroom. Getting your students attention can be tough sometimes, especially when it is 1:30, they are jittery, distracted, and full of sugar from three Milky Ways. You need to be heard so they can learn. Also, it has been said that people learn best by talking about ideas and doing. Yet you cannot have talking and doing in your classroom without a way to stop all the activity… without shouting.

No one likes to shout and no one likes to be shouted at. Oh, and parents and administration won’t be too pleased to hear about shouting. Then it’s agreed upon- you better have a device to get students’ attentions.

I have tried multiple techniques, but nothing has ever worked out stellar for me. Example- visual signals like “All eyes on me” and the students must point to their eyes to show you have their attention. Or verbal signals like counting down from 5, at which point everyone must be silent. Although I secretly giggle about being like Tupac with all eyes on me, it is somewhat babyish and I don’t think junior high kids react well to looking like little kids. And counting…well, the students must hear you for it to work, and let’s face it, sometimes my classroom is louder than it should be.

Wind Chime

Solution- Musical Chime- Ring 1X to get them to notice you. Ring 2X and there should be total silence.

This is a tip from Marcia Tate, of Worksheets Don’t Grow Dendrites renown. I had the great opportunity to attend one of her seminars and she used this throughout. A chime is better than a bell because it is a singular noise, not something like a bell which  you will have the urge to ring several times when frustrated. A chime is also better than a tambourine- silly or a kazoo- goofy (and annoying).

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