Today's post comes from Nicole, our content editor and the author of Lovin' from the Oven. You can read more about her on our About page.
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Today, I’d like to tell you about an invaluable tool called the Great Behavior Chain. When I was in my first year of graduate school, I took a class on student motivation and we heavily studied resources from Terry Alderman and his program “D.A.T.A: Discipline, A Total Approach.” One of his group behavior contingency strategies was the Great Behavior Chain. It works something like this:
In addition to using this strategy as a whole-class reward contingency, I also used individual chains with student table groups for behaviors like keeping their team supplies organized, lining up quickly and quietly, and being the first group to have their materials out and ready for a lesson. Students loved the competitive aspect of trying to outdo another table team, and they enjoyed the rewards each time their table group reached their goal (either a class reward coupon or a treat from our treasure box, such as a pencil, sticker, or eraser).
How can you use the Great Behavior Chain strategy in your classroom? We’d love to hear what behaviors you’re working on with your students! Share with us in the comments below, or hop on over and share on our Facebook page!
Ask the #Educhums: What are some things you need to remember when working with a new paraprofessional?
Whether your classroom has a full-time assistant or you occasionally work with a paraprofessional in another capacity, it's important to consider how you will make him or her a part of your classroom community. This week, Snarky reader Ms. F — a high school Spanish teacher from Illinois — asked a great question to consider at the start of the school year.
This Week's Question
When working with a new paraprofessional, what are some things you need to remember to tell them as you are introducing/ training them into a new classroom or school?
We asked Erin, a Snarky reader from Massachusetts, to weigh in for us. Erin will start her eleventh year working as a paraprofessional this fall.
It's important for a paraprofessional to know what the rules and expectations are for your classroom and the school, just as you would communicate them to your students. You should also have a frank discussion for the ways in which you want and expect them to be involved in your classroom. For example, will they just hang with the students they're assigned to, will they teach small groups (high or low?), will they have a role in whole class lessons? The relationship works best when everyone knows what the expectation is from the beginning.
I would also suggest discussing the different techniques you use for managing behaviors to encourage consistency, who to consult for different questions or issues (i.e. neighboring teachers, the school psychologist, a social worker, office staff, cafeteria staff, special education teachers they need to know), and where important items are kept (supply closet, book rooms, etc.).
Readers, if you have worked with a paraprofessional in a school setting — or better yet, you are one — we'd love for you to weigh in on how you help him or her acclimate to your classroom or school! Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Got a question you’d like to ask our community of educators? Send it to us via this form. We look forward to hearing from you!
Today's Tech Tuesday post is brought to you by TJ, a 7th grade math teacher from Rialto, CA. TJ was featured in Snarky's Teacher Feature earlier this year and is back with more invaluable advice for managing your tech. Follow TJ's blog for more educational insights.
If you have the opportunity to have technology available to you in your classroom, consider yourself blessed! It’s even better if you have a class set of devices so that each student has individual access during your class time together.
But the class set of devices means that your students are working with something significantly more expensive than (and not as easily replaceable as) a pencil or a book. For me, this made me nervous at first. However, as the years have gone by, there are a few things I’ve learned about managing a class set of devices in my classroom — some through hearing the experiences of others, and some through trial and error. People have different systems in place in their classrooms, but in general, these systems incorporate three main qualities. If you want students to use their time and equipment wisely, make sure three things are in place: clear expectations, focused accessibility, and accountability.
Students need to know how to treat the devices. For some of them, your classroom will be the first time they have used that type of technology. Your classroom might be the only time they get to practice using that technology. You need to be clear on how they should interact with it.
Before I let the students use the devices for the first time, we take some time to go over our technology expectations. I have displayed the expectations as a poster on the classroom wall. I have also had students sign a contract regarding technology use, and they kept a copy in their classroom folder. If you would like, you could give a quiz on the most important parts of the expectations to make sure kids know what they are doing before they get their hands on the technology.
As students came in the door, they went to the charging cart and picked up their Chromebook before sitting down. Most had their Chromebooks and were logging in before the bell rang to start the period. I stopped our work about 4-7 minutes before the end of the period (depending on the behavior of the period) so students could return the Chromebooks to the cart. Sometimes I would let them line up as soon as they had logged off. Sometimes I would dismiss them by table group to line up. In the future, I would probably pick one or the other and be consistent with it.
For returning Chromebooks, I also tried putting a timer up and writing on the board how long each period took to put away their Chromebooks. I also wrote down their best time. This made a number of students move faster to clean up and encourage their classmates to do the same, which was great.
Later, I changed the seating chart and assigned students their seats based on their Chromebook number. For example, the number 8 student in each period sat in the same seat. With this method, I was able to have first period take their Chromebook to their desks, and the Chromebook could stay there all day long. This makes more class time possible, since students don’t have to use up time to return the Chromebooks (except for the last period… and sometimes I would just have them stack the Chromebooks so that either I or a student volunteer could put them away after school).
Technology has the advantage of making tons of programs, apps, and resources available to students at any time. It is not like a video or book where the teacher has everyone working on the same thing. Students can now work on different assignments at their different paces. It will be impossible for you to help everyone at the same time with their different needs. Distractions are everywhere!
If you want them to stay focused on what you need them to do, it is important that students know what to do without your help when it comes to independent work time.
For the password issue, I made a sheet of paper with the student contract on computer use on the front. On the back was a list of all the passwords the student needed for various programs we were using. I gave one copy to each student. I took another copy and stapled it inside a manila folder with their name and number on it. On the wall, I had pocket folders for each number, and students put their folder in there. This made for easy student access to their login information when they forgot it. (I originally had a single folder of just the Chromebook logins, but if multiple people forgot their login info, the wait time just gave them an opportunity to start messing around.) There is the issue of privacy, but my kids did not ever log into others’ accounts. I did have a couple of people who forgot and took their folder home, or they hid someone else’s folder. It does take up a lot of wall space, though. Overall, though, I liked this system because students could get their information independently.
An online learning management system like Google Classroom allows you to assign work and provide many resources so that students can work at their pace. Students can also turn their work in online.
Besides a post on Google Classroom, I would also put a slide up of what students should be doing/turning in, in order, and I would verbally go over it. The slide included the behavior expectations for that activity.
To get students’ attention after they have started using their computer, I modified a procedure I learned at a conference. When I tell students to put the computer into “courtesy mode,” the students close the computer halfway (if they close it all the way, it will go to sleep and they will have to log in again) and rotate it 180 degrees (so the screen is facing away from them and they can’t peek at the screen and try to type). This helps reduce the distraction when you are trying to talk to them. I wouldn’t start talking until all the kids had their computer in courtesy mode, and I would stop talking when they would try to sneak a peek back at their screen/keyboard. If a number of them were pushing the limit, then I made them close the lid completely. They did pretty well with courtesy mode overall.
We all tend to hold ourselves to higher standards when we know that someone is watching us. With the students, accountability is crucial in taking care of your devices.
In my classroom, I used a permanent marker to number all the Chromebooks and the chargers/shelves in the charging cart. Then I assigned each student in each period a number. That was the Chromebook they had to use everyday. I did the same for the headphones they could borrow.
Having a computer monitoring system so that you can see each student’s individual screens on your computer is very helpful. My district has NetSupport, and I can see a small picture of students’ screens or an icon/list with the websites the students are on. I can block certain websites or only allow certain websites. I can lock specific students’ screens and send them a message on their screens. It was pretty awesome when it worked!
If students were not following directions and had already been given warnings, they lost the privilege of using the Chromebook for a day or two. Make sure to follow through on your consequences you have set in place so that students understand you mean business.
it's all about systems
Whatever you choose to do, make sure you are clear with your directions and procedures. Designing effective systems is crucial for maximizing time in any classroom, but with the expense of technology, it makes systems even more valuable in a tech-integrated classroom. You don’t want students to have any down time to get off track and start misusing their time or the device.
It will take time and work to get your systems in place before you start using the devices, but don’t let that discourage you. The technology is worth the extra work it takes to prepare to manage it. When you’ve got systems that work, your students will get to experience their education in ways that weren’t possible before, and you prepare them to become citizens of a global society. I wish you the best as you prep your students to become 21st century thinkers!
On Wednesdays, we here at The Snarky Schoolteacher bring you #EdHack, a feature designed to bring you tips and tricks for your classroom to make your life just a little easier!
In GWALP's original post, she mentions that she doesn't outwardly advertise the drawer, but quietly offers the contents to her students when needed. Once students know it is there, most of them will ask if they need something, rather than asking to bother the nurse for these kind of details, so they can focus on the kids who are truly sick.
"MOM" DRAWER IDEAS:
Do you have a "Mom" Drawer in your classroom? What else would you add to this list?
1. Each student should be given a note card (or you can use our printable). **Teacher Tip: If you want to assign seats on the first day of school, label each card with a number, distribute them as the students enter your room, and have them sit at the number on the card - two birds, one stone!
2. On the front of the note card, have students answer a set of predetermined questions about themselves. This should be anything that will help you get to know them better. I include birthdays as well to write on my class calendar. I usually project these onto the front board using the presenter or if you use the printable, they are done for you.
3. On the back of the note card, have students come up with five questions to ask a classmate. These should be questions that will help them guess who answered the questions.
4. You can do the next part two ways - you can collect and redistribute the papers to another student yourself or you can have students pass them around "hot-potato" style until you say stop. (Music is always fun for this.)
5. Once the new student answers the questions, collect all of the papers yourself and give them to their original owner. (Do not have them pass them around again or they may be able to easily guess who had it.)
6. Take turns guessing who answered the questions. Have each student read their questions and the answers out loud and then guess who answered them. If they have trouble, open it up to the class to guess.
There you have it - you can collect information about your students and include an icebreaker activity at the same time. Hopefully you find this activity useful for your own classroom.
This week, we are excited to present #EdHack, a new weekly feature here at The Snarky Schoolteacher!
What is an #EdHack, anyway? It is anything that makes your teaching life easier and more streamlined. The #EdHacks we will be bringing to you each week are universal tips that any teacher can quickly implement to make their lives easier.
Today's #EdHack: Sharpie Oil-Based Paint Markers
Like many teachers, your desks are probably labeled in some way. Whether you use printed labels, color grouping, or Kagan strategies, labeling desks is an incredibly helpful classroom management tool.
How many times have you labeled desks just to have them written on, peeled off, or scraped off? This tool is seriously going to blow your mind.
Check it out:
For even better results, use a Lysol wipe in place of a tissue. (I didn't have any at the time, but I think the results still look great with plain tissue.)
Plan on trying out today's #EdHack? Tag us on social media using the hashtag #edhack (or show/link us in the comments below!) We here at The Snarky Schoolteacher are so excited to bring you sanity-saving tips to make your classrooms function more smoothly. We know how important these little details are to your day-to-day function. Until next week -- stay snarky!
Have your own #EdHack you'd like to share? Tell us about it by submitting through the form here; you may be featured in a future edition of #EdHack!
The Snarky Schoolteacher is an education and lifestyle blog run by dedicated educational professionals. Our goal is to bring you relevant and fun educational content with a side of sass. Read more about our team here. Thanks for visiting, and we hope you will find these ideas and resources helpful in your classrooms and in your lives.