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    first graders
    By Janice Sayers

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    I teach first grade and have a few ideas that I use with my kids. I too was concerned for the children who were refusing to attend and distracting others. A couple years ago, I started to persue the idea of the students taking responsibility for their own learning and found that you really need to make appropriate behavior a priority and refuse to tolerate even the slightest distraction from the learning process during the first six weeks of school by any member of the group. Structure is the key. They need very clear guidelines and know your expectations. Demonstrate and model desired behavior. Then have the students model "What listening looks like" and "What listening sounds like".As soon as any student chooses inappropriate behavior they need to be redirected. I do not let them have anything in their hands during reading time nor are they allowed to move to another spot once they have chosen it. I have the students write the "rules" for reading early in the year in a shared writing on chart paper. That helps them take ownership. Then I post it at eye level next to the reading "carpet" and stop immediately when someone starts something and say, "(name) that is not appropriate. We (keep our space, fold our hands, or whatever")and point to that "rule" on the chart. We all read it aloud. Over and over and over again if that's what it takes. Most first graders are eager to please and react well when they are caught being good. It is important to "debrief" at the end of a session with "what did you notice about the way (so and so) was showing how we listen today?", etc. Of course we know that verbal reprimands do not always work. I also have a behavior board with cut out stars. Each child has a star that they move down a level when they choose to break a rule.(STAR)They lose 5 min. of recess for each level.(or another priveledge such as snack or computer time).
    Some resources I have found helpful are Responsive Classroom and PATHS.
    Also,all the students need to be able to see the print during whole group reading time. I use a bigbook, chart paper, pocket chart or multiple copies of the text. It needs to be highly interactive with all children participating in some way. I start out with very shot blocks of time 5-10 mins. and gradually increase.
    Hope this is helpful.
    Jan S.


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