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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Tricks of the Trade-The Silent Count-Down

It is Thursday, that means the week is almost over! I'm about to head out to my students' spring concert but I wanted to link up with Joy in the Journey and Compassionate Teacher for "Tricks of the Trade" Thursday.


This weeks topic is on attention-getters and transitions. At this point in the year, I feel like I need to stand on my head to keep my kiddos attention. Anyone else feeling that way today? Anyway...on to the tip.

One thing that I have found works well for me and my kiddos when we are sharing in a small group is what my kids have called "silent count-down." As I shared yesterday I like to give my kiddos time to share their writing. I also like to give them time to give "book talks" to a friend. I hate to cut the kids off and have them stop talking mid-sentence, so I have started using this strategy.

If the kids have designated amount of share time at the end of the lesson I will give them a half way warning (so they know to allow the other student to talk if they haven't already.) Then in the last 30 seconds I begin my silent count-down. I hold my hand up over my head showing 5 fingers. I walk silently around the room and every 5 seconds I put down one finger. This gives the students a silent 30 second warning that they need to finish their sentence so they can get back to their seat. They know (and we have practiced) that they need to be silent and back in their seat by the time all of my fingers are down.

It only takes a few kids to see me and they normally whisper to their partner "she's counting down." They quickly finish, clean up, and head to their seats. I love it because I'm not cutting them off mid-sentence, so they feel valued, but it isn't taking forever for us to wrap-up our share time.

What do you do to grab your kids attention or to help with transitions?

14 comments:

  1. What a phenomenal strategy! I have never heard of that, but I am definitely going to STEAL it! :) That way the kids have a visual reminder of how much time is left and can wrap up their thoughts without you cutting them off or jolting them with a loud "STOP!"

    Thanks for linking up, Bethany! You rock :)

    ~Jessica
    Joy in the Journey

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    1. Let me know how it works for you and your kiddos.

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  2. Yay--another fourth grade teacher! I'm so excited. I find my students benefit from many time-management and transition strategies. I really like your countdown idea! I can totally picture the kids whispering about the signal. :) We have a little piggy timer (that I bought at TJ Maxx) and it's practically a class pet. I often ask my students to help me decide how many minutes to set it for, for various times during the day. We also use a bell, lights off, I say softly "clap once if you can hear me", and a song chant. Your newest fan: The Learning Lab

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    1. The little piggy timer sounds so cute. My kids would treat it like a pet too.

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  3. Ditto what Jess said. This is an awesome way to make sure all students can share and wrap up their ideas. I am so going to try this. Thanks for linking up and sharing such a great idea!

    Becky
    Compassionate Teacher

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  4. That's a great idea! I love that it allows the kids to finish up their thoughts, but gives them a limit on when they need to be focused again. Thanks for the suggestion!

    :) Kaitlyn
    Smiles and Sunshine

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    1. You're welcome, thanks for stopping by!

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  5. I do the silent countdown too... it works like a charm. I don't know what they think is going to happen when I get to zero and they aren't ready, but they are motivated by something :) For big countdowns I use this awesome timer: http://www.classtools.net/education-games-php/timer

    Its so fun! I also use the classical music ones on this for math timed tests. It has been SO helpful!

    Happy Friday!
    Annie
    Three Cheers for First Grade!

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    1. I have never talked about what happens if I get to zero and they aren't ready either...but they think of it like a game. it is so great. I'll be sure to check out that timer.

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  6. I need to try silent countdown - sometimes I just talk too much! I like that they prompt each other - that can be so much more effective then prompting from the adult. I am going to try this, my mantra will be "Talk Less"!

    Looking From Third to Fourth

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    1. I know I've talked to much when at the end of the day I am tired of hearing my own voice! Let me know how it works for you!

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