Commentary on the Classroom Rules

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22 thoughts on “Commentary on the Classroom Rules”

  1. How does having a bell-ringer/do-now, or whatever one would call it work out if nothing is allowed on the desks? Do they complete it and then put their stuff away, or do you not use them to facilitate taking roll, etc.?

    1. Yeah, as Ben says, free choice reading is great to do at the beginning of class. Though, for 1st year students, they’re not reading to read any of the novels until later in the year. So you could provide paper copies of narratives you typed up from previous class discussions. Or, like what I do for the first semester of the first year, chat with the kids for the first 5 minutes of class. I’m on a block schedule so sometimes it takes 10 minutes to chat. Most of my students love this time to chat. But my classes are relatively small, under 20. It’s a great time to relax, banter, connect, and set the tone for the class period. If I have an admin coming in, I’ll do something they want to see, otherwise it’s me chatting with students for those first few, special minutes. I try to get the whole class involved in a special chat about whatever might be happening. I try to crack a joke, or direct attention on a student who has something interesting to say. I try to activate that mode of playfulness that we need students to activate. Sometimes that chatting will last 20 minutes. That’s just fine with me since I’ll have them for another 70 min. Nobody has stamina for that much teacher-led instruction. If I can get a good 40 minutes of auditory CI, I’m happy. Usually in 20 min chunks.

      1. Those teachers who “guilt” themselves when they “waste time” just chatting w the kids forget that in a four year program if we use every single instructional minute we only have 500 hours or 1/20 of the time we need for them to gain real proficiency. So chatting and building community and trust are not a waste of time at all, but an important part of the zeitgeist of the classroom.

  2. I use Free Choice Reading (FCR) to start the first ten min. of class. That’s my bellringer.

    I answer emails and call roll during that time while the kids are reading silently. In general, it is my view that instructional minutes need to be spent on input, not output, and so I do it that way. (By the way, that is the ONLY research-based use I see for the “novels”).

    The result of doing FCR in that way is a 15′ period between classes, ending up each June with a bonus of 30 extra hours of free time for me while my kids are building their reading ability, which is so key in the CI game.

    Thank you for this question, Lynn. This is exactly the kind of discussion we need more of here.

    1. Ben should one still follow the instructional cycles you outlined in the previous books as we lead up to Invisibles and stories based on said invisibles?

      1. The instructional cycles from ANATTY is a good framework and lot of folks – esp. those w a TPRS background – love them. So if you are one of those, follow those instructional cycles. If you did them last year and they worked for you go for it. You must decide. I made my decision to leave those instructional cycles behind in favor of Star Sequence. The Star is actually the guts of ANATTY. I personally favor the flavor of the Star. I will post the star graphic in a new post, Craig, since comment fields won’t accommodate such graphics.

        1. Thank you. I feel that the STAR sequence is strong enough on it’s own and I believe it has everything necessary to provide all the language one would need. I just feel like I’m walking on ice in my first year at a big high school

  3. Dear Colleagues,

    This is my second year teaching ever and using CI. I had lots of issues with classroom management my first year and I have been reading Ben Slavic’s Big CI Book. I had an idea of basing my classroom management on the theme “Respect” and have four papers posted around the classroom with how it would look like to respect 1) yourself 2) your teacher 3)your classmates 4) your classroom. Divide the students in teams and assign them one of these topics and they will write things to do and don’t do on each poster. In addition, I wanted to post Ben Slavic’s classroom rules to apply to story telling each time we do story telling. I read that Ben Slavic has 3 sets of rules, one even for the teacher him/herself. I can’t find them on the site. Also, should we do this the first day of school. I just read a post on another site saying that rules should not be done the first day of school and that it should be all about having students be excited about your class doing fun activities that demonstrate what will be done during the year.. I apologize for my long post.

    1. Hi Zaida. I totally agree with Ben that no matter whether classroom management is an issue or not (your students must all by on medication if it isn’t!), our first few days (weeks?) of class should be playing the game instead of explaining the game. Discussing rules and syllabi and grading sends the message that they must comply or else! And they will resent you and rebel. Yes, they get that in other classes. Too many. They’re tired of it.

      The best way to cast a spell on students to get them to play the game with you is to just play and let them learn the rules as you go along.

      Whenever someone tries to teach me a new card game my brain starts rumbling. I can’t hear their words. I ask them to just play with me and I’ll learn as we go.

  4. Zaida I’m actually the source of the idea to not discuss rules on the first day. It’s what I do. But what matters is what makes YOU feel comfortable. I know from experience that the kids are BOMBARDED w what could be up to 40 or 50 rules in their different classes so how can they remember them?

    It’s critical that we keep this first day planning you are doing simple. I no longer use my own rules for myself. I use my classroom rules only. I suggest you use them but don’t explain them on the first day. It’s best to set the tone by teaching using CI and stopping like 75 or more times during that first class, pointing to Rule #2 and not saying anything – just let them read the rule in silence.

    BUT you have to point to it every single time there is a disturbance of any kind. They will be testing you in that first week. My advice is to avoid the four poster thing. It will make the kids nervous and defensive. Just engage them using Card Talk and see what happens. If you end up saying very little in the TL on the first day, if it takes the entire period to point to rule 2 50 times, you are doing it right. I’m writing a book on classroom management but it’s at least a year out.

    Maybe search the term here in the search bar on classroom management or click on the category. But you decide what is best for you. My first day thing is to engage them w card talk and then STOP INSTANTLY in mid-sentence and walk slowly over to the rule and put your hand on it and don’t even smile every time a kid tries to speak English or talk to a friend or get a little group going, Would like to add more but this is getting too long already.

    I have major chapters on classroom management in my recent books if you have any of them.

  5. I notice you had different class rules from different sources. The first list I saw 9 and now there are 6. I get why suggest cute answers was no longer necessary, but what about sit up and if the teacher is not clear, tell her.?

    I am a bit apprehensive about transitioning from my 16 (relatively successful) years of a largely traditional approach. I had always used elements of CI, but class management will not be as automatic as before, as some previous activities will no longer fit in this new framework. So, stressing on the details.

    1. Hi Lynn –

      Peer pressure is the answer to why I dropped both of those rules.

      1. Sit up…I finished my career in an ultra high poverty school in urban Denver. Those kids were literally so defeated by life, families being deported, etc. that I couldn’t make it work so I took that one off. It might work in the suburbs, but even then I found myself trying to enforce it in class and the last thing to ever do in a classroom is confront a kid directly in front of their peers.
      2. If not clear… Kids won’t do that. They are so tuned in to what their peers think about them that they would never admit if they don’t understand. We forget that the way we are educating kids these days is not exactly all about building up their personal power and teaching them how to speak up in a group.

      As I said in the webinar, this may not be true in certain suburban schools.

    2. Just don’t dive in. Take the pressure off! And CERTAINLY don’t mix CI w the textbook. If that means 35-40 min. of how you taught last year and 10 min. of CI, great. It will slowly change. Nothing good happens fast anyway….

    3. Good question Lynn. I understand why Ben took off the rule “Sit Up. Square Shoulders. Clear eyes.” Ben does not want to threaten the dignity of the students that won’t comply with that rule for whatever pain they’re having to deal with in their heads.

      I’m going to keep this rule up, though. There’s so much teaching wisdom in these 3 brief phrases. I assume Ben articulated them. They show his vast and deep wisdom. I’ll just apply them subjectively.

      What!? That’s unfair! Subjective application of rules!? Well, just like we speak to students when they’re ready to listen, I will emphasize this rule for specific students when I feel they are ready to process it.

  6. Yup, Hybrid it is, although I am now so jazzed about the idea of doing research and proficiency based that I will work hard on perfecting my circling and other skills. I teach in a class selected for above average learners, the majority very motivated by grades, some very into learning for the sake of it. (One girl is also taking Japanese on her own, for example) No one, theoretically, who has a academic barrier to being successful. Emotional barriers are another thing, of course.

    I was not allowed to exclude native speakers already with good BICS. This is a HS credit class at the middle school and some are here for the credit. So, thanks for your Big book of CI, and for responding so quickly to my questions and comments. Growth is scary, but stagnation is worse.

    1. Lynn, how many native speakers do you have in your classes? If you have too many, I’m afraid it spells doom. It’s a high priority to get those their own native speakers class. I’ve been there, done that in a couple of different Chicago Public Schools.

  7. …growth is scary, but stagnation is worse….

    This PLC is over 15 years old. Lots of sentences in these pages, therefore. That sentence right there Lynn is definitely in the top 100 sentences I’ve read here ever. Stagnation really is the worst thing that can happen to a teacher.

  8. Lynn you won’t need to circle if you use Walk Before You Talk. The reps you want are better achieved by more infrequent deep and rich contextual reading content as provided by the Star Sequence.

  9. Circling almost drove me out of CI. Don’t do it. Repeat yourself, change your voice tone, whisper, shout the same sentence, ask lots of questions, answer your phone and tell your mom the same sentence, but don’t circle. Like Ben said, you can get more reps with the reading, and if you use it, the artist retell.

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