. Regurgitated Alpha Bits: Listen, Think, then Do

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Listen, Think, then Do

That title is a phrase I have adopted from one of my teaching partners in an effort to help this VERY impulsive group of fourth graders make better decisions.

You see, every year the third grade teachers say, "Juuuust wait until you get THIS bunch of kids. You'll see how crazy they are!"

And every year things work out just fine.

Something tells me THIS year might break our streak though.

This bunch is a highly excitable, highly impulsive, highly deceptive bunch of kids. When we attempted to submit many of their names to our school psych for participation in the Social Skills class she runs, she informed us that she began the Social Skills intervention BECAUSE of this group when they were in the First Grade. They were so poorly behaved and cruel to each other she began an entire intervention program just for them. However, they had to eventually dismiss each and every one of them from the group because their behavior was too severe.


Now what? She is a truly gifted psych who has changed the lives of many students at our school and even SHE has all but given up on this group.

So we are starting with the basics. We simply want to help them be more successful in doing the small things in class, like getting out a pencil without chaos ensuing, so we began the "Listen, think, then do" campaign.

Let's look at this campaign in action, shall we?

Me: We are going to work on some math problems in our journals. Listen.When I say GO, take out a pencil. Think. What are you going to do? (pause. while students "Think") Go.

Students dive into their desks and many resurface with a pencil in their hands, however two come up with scraps of torn up paper and one with a pen. His neighbor has no writing utensil at all but does have tears streaming down his cheeks and one hand over an eye.

Me: Artie, why are you crying?

Artie: Frank stabbed me in the eye with a pencil!

Me: Stabbed you in the eye?!?!

Frank: Did NoooOOOoOT! I don't even HAVE a pencil! It was a pen.

Me: You stabbed him in the eye with a pen!?!? Artie, go to the nurse.

Frank: I didn't stab him on purpose.

Me: Can you explain how you stabbed him by accident?

Frank: I was taking the cap off and my hand flew back and stabbed him in the eye with the pen.

Me: Was the cap stuck?

Frank: No.

Me: Then what caused your hand to fly back?

Frank: The pen was stuck.

Me: In what?

Frank: The cap.

Me: Isn't that the same thing as…forget it. When I said Listen, what did I tell you to do?

Frank: Take out a pencil.

Me: When I said Think, what did you think about?

Frank: How much more fun it is to write in pen.

How did I not see that one coming?

It became monumentally clear that not only must I break down my directions into minute bites for them, I must also think aloud for them too.

I must verbalize what they should do,

how to do it,

when to do it,

where to do it,

and anticipate everything they might do in place of what I want them to do and warn them of the potential consequences.

Phew! Knowing that makes my job muuuuuch easier.


Angela Watson said...

Hah, I love it! Yes, the think-aloud is not just for reading comprehension modeling anymore, my friend!

My group last year was just that way. It was exhausting to have to break down every. single. task. the way you're doing, but my choice was either frustration during the direction-giving or frustration afterward with the results.

Hang in there! :-)

KUStacey said...

You just described my class this year. I have one who pushes instead of simply saying, "Excuse me." One who rolls on the floor during read aloud and by the end of the story has traveled the entire room on his back, knees, head, butt, etc. One who interrupts with stories of her dad in jail. One who randomly bursts into song...and not appropriate song...think "Girls, Girls, Girls" by Motley Crue, complete with air guitar and headbanging. And, two adorable little girls that are so busy telling everyone else what to do that they themselves accomplish nothing.
I feel your pain. Deeply.

Edna Lee said...

I do indeed feel your pain, KUStacey. I do indeed...

Admin said...

i really fell your pain. Just Hang in there! God Bless!

Anonymous said...

You wanna know whats sad? Is that I have Juniors just like this! If you dont spell it out in detail it doesnt get done, and even then its a 50/50 shot at best. I love them to death and the chaos makes me think of a Jerry Springer show, but you can't run from history.
I think the I would take a quote from Glee's opening episode and say "You think that's hard!?!?! Try Waterboarding!!!"

Youre doing Great...Love the Blog