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!!

  1. 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.
  2. 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.


12 replies on “Classroom Management

  1. I have seen the marble jar before, but never in a language class. We just started fourth quarter as well and I already can feel the students beginning their downhill slide. Thanks for the ideas!!

  2. During these dog days of April I have been doing less auditory CI. Instead, we’ve been doing a lot of reading. Reading can still be good input if it is simple enough, and from what I’ve seen it helps me and my students relax in a productive way during what is otherwise a very distracted time of the year.

  3. AMEN! I spent the entire second quarter reading with one of my zaniest classes (search “Plan B” in my blog archives for posts about that experience). What a great idea to return to that for fourth quarter!!! My last two periods of the day are going to need it, methinks…

  4. I have used Blaine’s pagame system and then saw your blog. Now we have a ‘hot seat’. It is a little decorative chair with a votive candle. Without the candle it looks like a fancy commode 🙂 anyway, it is working great and my high schoolers moan or laugh in good humor as someone ends up with the chair. And they also don’t seem to mind coming up with a 100 word essay in Spanish on a subject of there choice. It is a bit like playing ‘hot potato. Thanks for the post.

  5. I am a little confused. does a marble equal one minute of PAT, so when the jar gets 20 marbles they get their PAT time on Friday? or does the class have to fill the jar to a specific level? Do you keep a jar for each class period? Do you dump out the marbles at the end of the week, or is it cumulative until the class earns the PAT? I presume not every class earns the PAT; so, are the classes who did earn the PAT behind the classes that didn’t, since the classes without the PAT are getting 20 extra minutes of instruction? How do you adjust your plans for something like that? When you are using the timer for “stay-in-Spanish-for-5-minutes-&-get-a-marble”, do you announce every 5 minutes that they have earned a point? or do you wait until the end of an activity, consult the timer, and determine how many points they have gotten? If the class reaches 20 marbles on Wednesday, do any extra marbles they earn go toward the next week’s PAT? or are those just extra (“wasted effort” as it were)? do you ever take marbles away? thank you!

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