Monday, September 10, 2012

Attention Getters!

I received a question on a listserv and thought many could use the answer: What I am looking for is a rhyme or song or finger play or hand clap that gets the kids to quickly transition into library and reminds them about appropriate behavior. Specifically for kids grades K-2.

My answer:

This is something I find really hard too, and have found a couple that work well:

Me: I'm ready for centers/listening/checking out, etc. Show me you are ready, (count back from 5). 
Usually they quiet down and know to listen. If they do not, TEACH them what "show me your ready" means - for me, it means sitting on our bottom, looking at me, without talking. In some classes, it's VERY specific, sitting on your bottom, hands folded, body turned looking at me, without talking (so they are not playing with their book or supplies/talking to a friend/etc). I've learned the hard way not to assume, and to explain EVERY step even when you think it might be silly. I also model everything, from laying across the table to sitting properly. (It's usually my exercise during the beginning of the year. =) 

Give me 5 - count down from 5, the students put up their hands like an air five, this works really well with older kids, as most of them do it in our classrooms.

Clap a rhythm, have them clap back for attention. 

I've heard tons of rhyme type things, but then they end up singing it ALL. THE. TIME. I used to like clap, clap, hands in my lap, but that's really only good for PreK. Some ideas - 

Whatever you use - PRACTICE, remember not only are you seeing 6 different classes, but those students see 5/6 different teachers too because of specials. Make your expectations clear, practice them so you can model and they know exactly what's expected, and if they don't remember, go over it again. It is WAY better to use a couple class periods on this than to constantly fight for their attention. This takes F.O.R.E.V.E.R. and by the time you get them where you want them, it's June =) 

Try using as much positive reinforcement as possible rather than negative, table 4 I see you are working very hard to be ready, you get 2 extra minutes on the computers, or can check out first, or whatever. I almost never use stickers/candy, mainly because it's messy, expensive, and the behavior goes away the second you're out of candy and stickers =) We also talked today about being "annoying" that some kids were purposefully being silly and wasting others time, and how that is not fair to our learning. It was really interesting to see the change in some kids attitude when they realized this. 

Also, don't be afraid to change it mid year, sometimes things get old/don't work, change it up! =) I used to be really afraid of this, but now if something is really not working, I change tactics the next period and reteach. Also take into account the day itself, if it's the Kindergarteners 100th day, they are going to REALLY hard to instruct. Relax and read a story together, etc. 

Some other things that may help is having EVERYTHING have a routine - teach them how to checkout, and what it looks like, where do they line up, how? what voice level do you use...etc. When working at the tables/computers/etc, what do they do? Have them make signs and take ownership of their routines. That way even if you don't have their attention, they will know what to do. 

Let me know what works, hope this helps =)

If you have other ideas, please comment and share!