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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Getting Attention in a Noisy High School Classroom: Masking Tape

** Rethinking my title ... Using Masking Tape to Quiet a Noisy Classroom ... Would that be a better attention-getter?

Geez Louise!!!

I feel like I have the loudest classes I have ever had.  I know that every year is about the same, but in the depth of DEVOLSON (the Dark, Evil Vortex of LateSeptember, October and November), it is hard to keep a realistic perspective.  Thanks Love, Teach for naming this horrid time of year.

I saw an article 30 Techniques to Quiet a Noisy Class, and while I would love to say "the only easy day ..."  and my students respond "was yesterday."  But ... I don't see that happening with my SENIORS (sorry for yelling ... but not that sorry).  Here are some (possibly too truthful) reflections of what I have done in the past.

Masking Tape:

Back in the day I would wear a thick roll of masking tape on my wrist.  I would use it to record student interactions - good and bad.  I would write the date and period then I would write a student's initials with a + for good participation or make notes of anything bad.  They wanted "points" ... these points didn't mean anything.  They didn't earn points, they didn't get a prize, but I didn't remind them that the points were meaningless ... I'm not crazy ... my mother had me tested.

The tape was very effective. If the class was noisy I could pull and rip off a piece of tape.  If you do it right, it is loud.  But be careful ... I gave myself a tape-cut on more than one occasion.  At this point some of the students will be looking at you, look at the students who are still talking and start writing down names ... or make a grocery list ... but look mad when you do it ... and stare at them ...

The other good aspect of the masking tape is that I logged all of the information I gathered.  I constructed a spreadsheet and recorded the date, period, kid, +/- and description of what they did.  By recording the data in a spreadsheet you can quickly sort by kid when a parent wants a conference.  And this is spreadsheet saved my hiney a time or two ... it is a good way to shift focus to the kid when needed.  CYA.

The bad aspect of logging data from masking tape ... you have to log the data ... I would end up with pieces of masking tape stuck to my desk until I had time (to stay even later) to type it all in.

Class Dojo:

In the past three-ish years I have shifted from tape to Class Dojo.  There are a lot of possibilities here.  You mark positive and negative interactions by category and you can have parents set up account and get notifications right away.  I have only used this with my freshmen ... and I am not as consistent because I have to carry my ipad or phone around to use it.  I may try it with my seniors soon.

I am hoping to ass some more ideas in my next posts ... it's late and I have school ... but I will leave you this idea if you are losing perspective during this DEVOLSON.


My favorite tech director (i wonder if I have already told this story ... oh well, it's a good one) told me that someone told her when you are feeling frustrated at the beginning of the year you need to remember you don't have freshmen, you are training 8th graders to be freshmen by the end of the year.

**Disclaimer:  I am obsessed with Love, Teach.  I remember being obsessed with the same blog at some point last year.  Check it out.  It will brighten your day.

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