Monday, October 6, 2014

Transitions

Transitions are such a big part of our day; however, they are rarely discussed.  A few years ago when I got my first long-term sub job teaching 4th grade, my class was very chatty.  We were losing so much time transitioning from subject to subject.  As a result, I created an incentive for fantastic transitions and a consequence for poor transitions.

Implementing:
Now how this works!  You write the word VOICES on your whiteboard/chalkboard at the front of the room at the beginning of every week.  Any time the class has a poor transition you simply erase a letter.  In my classroom, letters may not be earned back.  At the end of the week, if the class still has one or more letters left they earn a "green card" (read incentive below).  If the class loses all of their letters before the end of the week then they do not earn a green card - acting as the consequence.  If any additional letters needed to be written up for poor transitions that is time the class "owes" me (read consequence below).  Usually, the first week they lose all of their letters and sometimes get additional letters written up because they are testing and learning your expectations.  After a couple weeks of implementation, you will notice how quickly and quietly your students transition maximizing learning and fun time! :)
Some example green cards earned by my class this year!

Incentive:
The particular class I was long-term subbing for had a whole class reward system already in place (which I LOVE and still use every year! Thanks, Becky!): when the whole class did something extra special, such as, being respectful listeners the entire time at an all school assembly or earning a compliment from a teacher/principal, they would earn a "green card."  Essentially, it is a green index card which the teacher writes the above and beyond behavior on and posts it in the room.  The class sets a goal of how many green cards they must earn before they get a class party.  To start off the year, I usually have a goal of 10 to 12 green cards so the kids can achieve it within about a month and a half.  I like to have the kids have a sense of accomplishment fairly quickly. Once the class earns the goal amount, they get to choose a class party.  Some parties my previous classes have chosen are: 20 minutes of extra recess, bring a stuffed animal to school, wear PJ's for the day, 20 minutes of playing with electronic devices, etc.

Consequence:
Any time the class has a poor transition I simply erase a letter from VOICES.  If they do not have any letters left at the end of the week, then they do not earn their green card.  If the kids lose all of their letters before the week is over, then I start writing letters up for each poor transition (spelling out the word HOTDOG--click to read post to understand).  For every letter that I have to write up, the class "owes" me two minutes.  The "owed" time is a great time to practice transitions, generally at the beginning of their snack break or recess time...since it is from their free time.

Where I post my green cards.  I call it a "Super Star Goal" 
as you can see written on the board.
You can see my "VO" from VOICES...I simply write 
it on the whiteboard in the front of the room.

My Transition Expectations:
Q & Q as my students like to say! Quick, quiet, walk, hands-to-self, and efficient.

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