Ah, fourth quarter. How I despise you.
I think that it is particularly frustrating in Alaska because the days are SO long now–there is still light on the horizon at 10:00pm, and it keeps increasing! Kids are out late and are zonked in the mornings and antsy in the afternoons.
After a particularly frustrating day of storytelling on Thursday, Julia (my intern) and I sat down to talk about strategies. Julia had a bunch of great ideas that she has gathered from her methods teacher and previous cooperating teacher. We decided to use the marble jar described below. Here are two ideas that I have tried and with which I have experienced success in the past. I’d love to hear what you use!!
- The Lunchbox: Designate any object you want (mine was a Dora the Explorer lunchbox) as a ‘hot potato': you don’t want to get it, and if you do get it, you want to get rid of it!! The teacher puts the object on the desk of any student that is talking, speaking English, or off-task in general. The object only gets moved if someone else starts a negative behavior, and then the teacher moves the object to his or her desk, instead. Whoever ends up with the object at the end of the class period has a LANGUAGE consequence (has to write an essay, translate a text, etc.). This idea originally came from Victoria Gellert, a Japanese teacher in our district.
- The Marble Jar: Students try to earn minutes of PAT (Preferred Activity Time) on Friday. They do this by earning one minute at a time, up to 20 minutes throughout the week. They earn one minute for every five minutes that they stay in Spanish and on-task. The teacher holds a timer and re-starts it anytime that someone speaks English or is off-task. They can also earn a minute when you catch them doing something really great: excellent participation, acting, phenomenal answers, etc. I used a similar method of earning free time a few years ago (I had a chart with eight categories–like coming to class prepared, staying in Spanish, leaving the room clean, etc.), but I found that it didn’t have any affect on the classes’ actions. I like the marble jar because it is more in-the-moment (versus being determined at the end of class), and it is focused entirely on positive participation (versus preparedness and what-not). Also, Julia came up with a little hand clap/cheer that the classes do whenever they receive a point (in order to celebrate), and that is super fun.