My favourite signal is counting down from 5-1. I explain at the beginning of the day what I expect when I get to 1 (eyes on me, listening, quiet, etc). Sometimes it doesn't work, and usually that's because they're used to something else (then I'll discreetly ask a student what signal their teacher uses). Most of the time it's good. If a class is really noisy in group work or in computer lab or something, you can flick the lights a second. I really don't like doing that though.
In the way of more once-per-class, positive attention-grabbers (I need to fill a few minutes, or they've been pretty good all day and I want to do something different), I will either tell a story, often about one of the weird ways my pets have died (fish, frogs, and lizards, BTW), or I will show them my scorpion lollipop. My BF got it for me from a science museum gift shop and they all think it's the coolest thing ever.
My two favorites for this age were already mentioned - I use the countdown method for transitions when they aren't moving fast enough. Everyone loves the bit of rush rush and the shot of adrenaline. This is fine as long as you know the class won't get out of hand at this point.
I use a variation of the stare. I plop myself on the nearest empty flat surface (desk, ledge, table) and swing my feet. Sometimes I look down at them - sometimes I look out the window. Over the years I've learned to take that few seconds to let my dangling legs sooth my patience. Works great ! The kids will all of a sudden realize I've stopped my constant activity and they'll stop. I look up surprised and say "Oh so you wanted to go on with the day? Okay we can do that!" By 4th grade everyone gets a bit of light sarcasm - we giggle - I jump down and we get on with our plan. Helps them refocus and helps me find some inner quiet!
I subbed once next to a third grade teacher who would sing silly, nonsensical songs until everyone paid attention. She was shorter than most of the kids, so she'd stand on a chair and sing. The kids wanted to hear her silly verses, so they shut up. Mind you, she did have a nice voice....
I sing too. My best attention getter is an echo reply. I tell them at the beginning when I introduce myself that the way I get their attention is to sing, "Hey, Friends?" They reply in the same style I use in saying it with, "Hey, Ms. (my name)!" I explain that when they reply, I expect all eyes on me, nothing in their hands, their lips become quiet, and bodies freeze. After I give directions, I do a count down to 1 for them to do the directions. It's fun, but respectful and I don't have to blink lights, clap or speak louder than I like.
"When I say Spider, you say Man" (or any compound word)
Repeat three times.
Repeat three times until all voices are off.
"If you can hear my voice, clap once. If you can hear my voice, clap twice. If you can hear my voice, and you're ready to start, clap three times."
Start snapping with both hands until the entire class is snapping with you. At this point, all voices should be off.
This is a Whole Brain Teaching attention getter: You say class. They say yes. Or you say Classity-class. They say Yessity-yes and so on.
With the above ideas, let the class know at the beginning of the day what signal(s) you will be using and how they are to respond. Tell them what they should look and sound like. Practicing at the beginning of the day wouldn't hurt, either.
Do something unusual. Start saying the pledge when you want their attention. They'll wonder what in the world you are doing when you just break out into the pledge. You'll definitely have their attention. If you do something like this, you do not have to explain it ahead of time.
Last edited by bGracie; 11-11-2009 at 04:30 PM..
Reason: Added something
Sometimes I do "star tables" (that's if the kids' desks are grouped together. I give stars out during the day and write these stars next to their table # on the board. Stars can also be taken away for poor behavior.
-when the whole group is quiet and listening.
-quick transitions from one lesson to the next ( I'll say, "I'm looking for ready tables that have their math book out, a pencil, and their homework from last night." Whichever table followed directions, had all the desginated items out on their desk and are sitting quietly, get a *.
-lining up quietly
-walk nicely in the hallways (this might be difficult to remember which kids are in which group, but if the entire group is doing something well, you can give each table a star when you get back from lunch or a special)
-working well with group on cooperative activities
-good attitute, well-mannered
-abundance of talking when not necessary
-not having a good attitude
-bickering with a classmate
You can be as creative as you want. Kids are really into this and I tell them that they have to be good team members and help their tablemate get organized if they're taking too long and encourage tablemates to be quiet and ready.
You can say: "I'm looking for ready tables," and you will see the kids scramble to get themselves together to earn their star. When you introduce this, make sure you reward stars right away so they know what good behavior they can model and it'll give them more incentive starting out so they can continue the trend.
At the end of the day, whichever table and/or group has the most stars, I usually leave a note for the teacher to let him/her know. If you find stickers in the classroom, you may give each student from the winning table a sticker. You may also bring your own stickers as well. I have used this in many classes and it really seems to work.