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Home : 2004 : Aug : 5

    By Ri

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    When I student taught, my third graders were a very chatty bunch. Good kids, just talkative! I decided that I needed to set up a management plan to deal specifically with their talking issue. My goal was for them to start self-monitoring their talking.

    My school had a die-cut of a yak. I cut some of these and posted them on the chalkboard, writing a number from 0 to 5 on each one. At the beginning of each day, a magnetic clip pointed to the "0" yak. The first time that the students were talking when it was not appropriate (or when they failed to heed my verbal reminder that it was not time to talk), I moved the clip up to the "1" yak. Throughout the day, when the class was talking at inappropriate times, I didn't need to do anything but walk to the chalkboard and move the clip to the next yak. Some students would always notice and frantically begin saying, "shhhh!" It got to the point where even walking near the chalkboard prompted them to stop chatting.

    If the students were at "3" or fewer by the end of the day, they earned a yak point. Accumulating 5 "yak points" (after 5 days of doing a good job with monitoring their talking) meant that I would give them some time (maybe 10 minutes) at the end of one day when they could simply talk to each other. The idea was that, if they could refrain from talking at inappropriate times, their reward would be some time set aside when it WAS appropriate to talk.

    If the students got to "4" on any given day, I erased their yak points and they had to start over again at trying to earn "yak time".

    If the students got to "5" on any given day, the class lost a privilege (in my case, they owed recess time). This never, ever happened. If the class got up to "4," they became as quiet as mice for the rest of the day and were really sad that they had lost their points, especially if they were on the verge of earning "yak time."

    Well, that was a lot to write, but it's really a simple system. It was successful for me.

    Just be creative! You will strike upon something that will work with your first graders. Being first graders, they will probably need a lot of instruction in when it is ok to talk and when it's not ok. My third graders knew better, the little rascals!

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