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Home : 2004 : Aug : 31

    By Mary

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    Oh, my. This is not going well, is it? How about this: I'm assuming you already have them sitting in groups or at tables. Hang an index card from a string directly over each table. Explain that you have a jar of paper clips on your desk, and each paper clip represents one minute (or two, or whatever) of free time on Friday afternoon. Then you reinforce LAVISHLY the first week or so. Even the tiniest on-task behavior that a group shows, catch it and put a paper clip on their index card. Also take one away for the tiniest infraction. You may want to start each group with ten or fifteen so no group goes in the hole--if they do that, come up with a stiff consequence, like no recess (I know, that punishes you, but hopefully they'll learn that lesson quickly). Anyhow, all kids love free time, and this should bring peer pressure to bear on the off-task kids. Or you could make it a contest and say that the group who has the most paper clips on Friday at lunch gets to do some wonderful thing you've cooked up (computer time? a craft project? No, wait, that's a mess, and it's Friday afternoon. Scratch that. You get the idea, though). Making it a competition works pretty well.

    BTW, I teach sixth, and I could never do this, because sixth graders would remove the paper clips from the card (after they've torn it down) and made small projectiles of them. But I once saw a fourth grade teacher use this, and it was very effective.

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