Creating Engagement via the Annoying Orange Technique

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14 thoughts on “Creating Engagement via the Annoying Orange Technique”

  1. Ben, you suggest trying this with a distant or glaring kid. I have a kid who is a blurter, pretty disruptive as of last week and seems to need SO much attention. I had his mom come in and observe last week but the moment she left class he went back to verbalizing every single thought and giving off negative vibes–harshing the class’s mellow so to speak. Should I give annoying orange a whirl or would there be another strategy you would try instead?

    1. I have one too. I have chatted with this kid after class. I always point to the rule “support the flow of French”. It seemed to work but I know that he will still need reminders.

    2. I wouldn’t try Annoying Orange on that kid. I would take it straight back to the parent. That behavior of disrupting just after mom leaves is at a whole new level. I would like to know what others think but in my view this is a matter for the parents.

    3. Boy, I’m so lucky this year. So far students that just suck the air out the room. I have blurters but they know it’s a weakness of theirs. I have some mild downers but they are so much more mild than what I’m used to it doesn’t phase me a bit. My mojo is flowing and most of the class are riding the mojo waves with me leaving that downer dude in the dumps. We’ll see if I can keep this wave going.

      There’s also that wonderfully relieving solution of finding a neighboring teacher to send that kid to when they get bad. Send them with a textbook or dictionary to copy words. Maybe that’s what you could do, Elena and Steven.

      1. I can always talk to my colleagues. They usually take off points from their grades. They also have a parent note to sign. I might do the latter but adapt it from jgr.

      2. I love the idea of checking in with mom ASAP and then having the student work out of the textbook/workbook if the necessity presents itself. That may send a strong enough message for him to get his act together.

        Luckily, the class is on my side and they are excited and happy about our class and community. But man, oh man, can one or two hurting kids really bring the group down.

        1. Yeah Elena I really get what you are saying about those few kids. I posted an article about a classroom management technique called “Babysitting” that you might want to try out. After having met you in Oregon last summer and knowing what you are bringing to the table for those happy kids in your classroom, my heart is deeply with you as you begin now only your second year of teaching. You are representative of a brand new kind of teacher, one of courage in bringing strong CI instruction to all your students, and my prayer for you is that you not let those few negative kids ruin the party. It’s just a prayer I have. Please keep us posted on this, as I hope also to hear from Steven on how he is doing with those few kids he has mentioned here in the past few days. In our country it seems that we have as teachers allowed “a few kids” to disrupt the learning of many in millions of classrooms. It has become an accepted behavior, though deeply wrong. I think it is more true here than in other countries, where oppositionally defiant kids are handled with much more adult power and guidance. I may be wrong on that but I feel that, because we are actually teaching in a real and authentic and not fake way when we use comprehension techniques, we as a national teaching corps can finally insist that those rude kids be shut up once and for all. I feel a mandate being formed right now as a result of all the hard work of past years. We really can deal with those kids. We are no longer weak because we actually have a way to teach that works. We can change it now. You and Steven and anyone else in our community this year, as we approach what in my opinion is the single toughest month of the year for any teacher, October, please keep us informed on how your classroom management is going. Nothing is more important than silencing those few negative voices. We can do it and we will do it.

  2. Steven and Elena what Sean is referring to is a practice you may not be familiar with that we started doing here about six years ago or so. Our department, or at least with one other colleague within our department, function as baby sitters for those kids who just bring the vibe in the room down. We haven’t talked about it in a long time and I am thrilled that Sean remembered it and suggested it just in time for what I call the October Collapse, when kids start to get ugly with the shine of the new year just faded. What we do is have a little routine that really works. We send the offending kid to our colleague’s classroom, whether she has a class or not. If not, she babysits the kid as they do pre-prepared busy work which we hand to the offending kid as they leave the class. If our colleague has a class that period, it is even better, because there is a kid we have chosen for this job, usually a big kid like a football player who sits in the back of the classroom and who is of good will. When the colleague sees the kid come into the room, there is no discussion. Everything is planned out and goes into effect. The big kid stands up, the colleague directs the offending kid to go sit in the empty desk next to the big kid, the big kid tells the kid to sit down, and the big kid becomes the offending kid’s babysitter, making sure they do so with a bit of a scowl. The message is that the big kid buys into what we are trying to do in our class, and if the offending kid does anything to try to draw attention to himself as he did in the other classroom, the big kid squashes it. The reverse is true, of course, where our colleague can reciprocally send us anyone they want and we have our own good-hearted but physically intimidating kid in our own room ready to stand up when they see a “visitor” to our classroom who needs to be babysat. It is a matter of great interest to all the students in both classes to see the offending kid thus expelled from one class and swiftly, within seconds, being made to sit in another class that is usually being conducted in a completely different language, with a kind of guard on him. It’s what those offending kids deserve, policing from another student who takes our instruction seriously. The entire process can take only about ten seconds for the offender to be ushered out of the room, escorted by either me or the big kid in my room, and then it takes another 30 seconds for the offender arriving in the colleague’s room to be welcomed and quickly put under the watchful gaze/scowl of the big kid in the back of the colleague’s room. I have rarely used this, but each time I have it has really worked. I won’t say which schools I used it in, but they are both big urban Denver schools where a lot of those antisocial behaviors had been – big mistake – tolerated by far too many teachers. My favorite moment with this babysitting idea was once when a kid arrived from Barbara Vallejos’ class, with a kid who was kind of out of control. The offending kid was escorted by Barbara who only had to walk him across the hallway. She half opened the door to my classroom, I immediately stopped teaching and welcomed our “visitor” with a big smile, pointed to my big kid in the back, saying, “Oh, welcome to my French class! Trevor standing up back there is going to help you do some work so go sit next to him!” The kid had this sheepish look on his face like he had been caught, and he had, and had no choice because I had trained my big kid to look unhappy that this was even happening. The much smaller kid had to go sit down next to the big kid and after a few failed tries – because of Trevor – to be funny in his new environment, began quietly faking doing his worksheets under Trevor’s watchful gaze. Thanks, Sean, for the reminder about this rarely used but very effective technique.

    1. Thank you so much for your support. I just spoke with a colleague today after reading your post and we have a plan in place. I even spoke with our Restorative Justice coordinator who is going to come in and do a circle with the whole class. I feel lucky to have found this blog and have RJ in place at my school. Will keep you posted as the year continues. I’m totally going to give this a try!

      1. I was thinking that too, to invite an RJ counselor, Elena for my class to build together as a community via a circle. Im kinda lacking in knowing how to build classroom community.

  3. Monday is over. After a parent call and a “hi” in the hallway in L1, my grammar kid actually smiled after I responded to her suggestion for our character to be a cook. Then I call on one of my best listener quiet kid after he murmurred that he makes sandwiches. I take the chance to spin off the conversation focusing on “cooking”. We actually had a laugh in the TL!

    For our living dead girl, the bored one, I just kindly reminded her to keep her head up. She did it. Then I catch her signalling another student across the room so I say, “thats communication. That’s what we are trying ro do jn this human experience. ” The rest of the class was on point. Then I had my story writer talk to me, I wrote it on her self eval, the one mike or david uses. I told her that it was time to step up her game in the ineracting dept. because she has leadership written all over her. It was a damn positive day.

    1. Wow Steven I love that vignette of your saying “leadership written all over her”.

      I firmly believe that just as Ben says we “turn sound into meaning” in or L2 work, that we also turn sound into people (especially in middle school) by speaking their future selves into existence.

      Just saying “leadership” to a kid, you have put a ruby of immense value into her self-concept. It will stay there to be brought out on dark days, and on days when it is needed to help her find the fire to actually grow into that name, and inhabit that power.

      I throw compliments around willy-nilly, at even the slightest HINT of a kid’s creativity or cooperation or leadership or being supportive or being a great person…and I speak that into them, I try to at all opportunities. Because our words go deep, especially into a twelve-year-old’s mind.

      I remember clearly so many little tiny compliments (and also tiny cutting words or gestures or even facial expressions) from teachers over the years. Once, in 1993, 23 years ago, i my second year French class, Mme Coggins said “And when I heard ‘Colette’ (My French class name for three years) say ‘Faites attention à la pronunciation, I felt like I was in Paris, France, her accent was so good.’ It is probably why I am sitting here with you folks now today. That sentence became a PART of me.

      1. …I speak that [hope] into them, I try to at all opportunities. Because our words go deep, especially into a twelve-year-old’s mind….

        This also cuts to the chase. And when we place the gathering of data over speaking hope that they can become something good one dat, we align with a model of education that is with each passing day more and more and more irrelevant.

  4. This report may not seem like the biggest deal in the world, but I see it as such. There is nothing worse than negativity in a CI classroom. It poisons absolutely and everyone can only feign to ignore it. So Steven this is where the rubber meets the road and you certainly are showing the kind of adult leadership in your classroom that those kids are really crying out for in the only way they know how. Congratulations, my brother!

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