9 Bail Out Moves

Bryan Whitney has surgically listed below the best response I have ever seen to deal with riled-up middle and high school kids. (Often their lack of control is in no way generated by disrespect but ironically is often generated by enthusiasm! But riled up is riled up, so read this list and keep it ready, perhaps taping it to your desk, to refer to. Why? Because the list mainly gets them writing. This action shifts their brain wave activity to an entirely different part of their brains, one that makes them think that they are learning. Ya gotta do it sometimes. And if you do it a lot, then fine! Nothing is more important than a quiet and focused classroom. How CI works re: input vs. output is a distant second to most that important statement.

So here is Bryan’s big time list of points about how to handle rowdy, riled-up kids. Bryan I added two more at 8 and 9: dictee and free writes. Please let me know if that is ok and if not I will remove them, but I think they fit well into the list:

With my student population, if they start getting a little over the top rowdy/goofy, I usually like to step back a bit and have them:

1. Write (copy things that I write on the board, do a dictée, etc.)
2. Draw (Listen and Draw is one of my favorites, or have them draw something that you dictate, or respond to a question with a drawing)
3. Translate something from the target language to English (then you can also talk about grammar) – They can write their response, and then share as a class, or have students take turns translating out loud, or have the whole class translate chorally).
4. Talk about grammar. Just pull out something that they can read in the target language, or even come up with something on the spot, and then talk about the grammar in it.
5. Do a quick quiz (if you had a student write one), or come up with a True/False quiz on the spot.
6. Play a game or have them do partner/group work/a little project. Even though there will be little to no actual language acquisition gains it gives you and the students a break, makes class more “fun”, and helps you to retain a bit of your sanity, so that you can get back to using comprehensible input afterwards.
7. Listen to a song in the target language.

Then, once they have settled down get back to the more engaging and fun stuff.



6 thoughts on “9 Bail Out Moves”

  1. Looks great! It’s really just a restatement of what I’ve learned from you and the others on this blog. Thanks everyone! And, yes, I can’t believe I forgot about free writes!

  2. Another thing I’ve found that helps with my classroom management is walking around and asking questions and just in general interacting with the students a bit while they’re writing or drawing. It really helps get more of a one-on-one connection that can be difficult when always doing whole-class activities. This is especially good for those really big classes where it can be hard to connect with everyone. (Which is particularly true for those big beginner classes…)

  3. Great timing Bryan! I just had a very sketchy day yesterday…likely due to post-homecoming fatigue (mostly mine as I was on duty all day Friday / Friday night / Sat. night). I noticed (afterward) that I was a bit impatient. Oops.

    Today I did “listen and translate” with one group and “dictado” with another, followed by a song. I will indeed write this list up in my notebook so it’s handy 🙂

    Totally agree re: walking around and chatting up the kids individually. Depending on the kid I use L1 or L2 since I know which kids are comfortable in L2. IT’s all the same to me: connect however I can!

    One of the hiding in the hoody kids, yesterday for the first time cracked a smile! And today he actually laughed! Yay!

  4. Yes.. I can do some of these with my 4th and 5th graders. Gives some other kids jobs too (passing out papers/pencils)

    1. Mindee, I used to sub for elementary. It’s no joke. You need to setup a procedure for EVERYTHING and model it tons of times. Patience is key here I am sure. After they get conditioned, they will fail into the routine. Have you connected with any elementary teachers? It would be good to document/ keep a log of your CI journey. As Ben has said, someone has to write a short book or guide for elementary TPRS/CI. Hang in there. We are all in this.

  5. It’s impressive the power of just stopping to type on the screen after all that interactive CI stuff so students can sit down and meditate on some translations. My 8th period needs this break from CI everyday, whereas my 7th period not so much at all really. My 7th period seems to enjoy hanging out in the language much more.

    Bryan, could you share what kinds of games you play in your #6?

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