Jobs For Kids

Here is a partial list with 50 jobs my students do in class. Many of the ones below are described in either TPRS in a Year! or PQA in a Wink!.  Those jobs marked with an asterisk are of major importance in my weekly schedule and somehow make the class – just because those people are doing those jobs – move along much better. I don’t know why. Some of the other jobs hardly ever get assigned. It depends on the class.

The way Kate Taluga describes these jobs is always in terms of community building. She calls them “ways to support one another in the classroom” and not really jobs. This is telling. If you go to one of her sessions at a national conference you can see this in action.

How can we be expected to build trust in the back and forth participatory process that is language learning unless we do it in community?

Understand that we must not “assign” these jobs before the need arises in our classroom. It is an organic process. When the job is needed the kid appears. You may not get more than one or two jobs assigned all year. That is fine. Just build community, and have fun with these suggestions. The kids love them.

1-3.  PQA Structure Counters* (3) (Monday) – The PQA counters do so much. They do things that we are not even aware of, functioning as a kind of social glue. They bring us together in pursuit of a common goal. Pure gold.

4. Story Quiz Writer* (Tuesday) – described in detail on this site but I’m not sure where.

5. Story Writer* (Tuesday) – described in detail on this site but I’m not sure where.

6. Story Artist* (Tuesday) – described in detail on this site but I’m not sure where.

7. Distributor/Collector of Quiz Scantron Sheets (any day)

8. Distributor/Collector of Pencils (I buy a ton at Big Lots as loaners – it avoids confrontations)

9. Professeur (there can be two of these) – they quickly decide on things like if the house is red or blue so that the teacher doesn’t have to take a side. Skill #36 in TPRS in a Year!

10. Bleater – see Skill #35 in TPRS in a Year! (auditions for this position are hilarious)

11. Où/Where Person (instantly lowers the kids’ affective filter in class) – I am not sure where this job is described but it’s a major one.

12. Quand/When Person (also instantly lowers the kids’ affective filter in class) – Huge. Again, I don’t know where it is described. Sorry about that.

13. Word Chunk Team Controller 1 (this is the most left out kid in class who couldn’t even get into a group. He gets to pick – which team raised their hand first – see resources/workshop handouts for Work Chunk Team details.)

14. Word Chunk Team Controller 2 (another kid in need of feeling needed – this one judges synchronicity of group signed responses.)

15. Word Chunk Team Controller 3 (keeps score.)

16. King/Queen of Gestures – this is the athlete with too much energy who is given the responsibility of jumping up whever they want to, usually when the teacher uses one of the target structures and who then reminds the class what the gesture is. If you saw Richard from Philadelphia in action in Las Vegas, you know what I mean about this job – hilarious, informative and very very useful. And it completely engages the kid with too much energy.

17. Sound Effects Guru – either via a machine or actually produced by the kid, as per Nathan Black.

18. Door Knocker Person (use of apps – this job and the one below are described in our professional learning community at – both are big winners with the kids.)

19. Door Ringer Person (use of apps – see above link for detailed description of how both door jobs work in the classroom)

20. Reader Leader. This is the kid who leads the class in the choral reading of texts. She reads slowly and loudly and literally brings the class along with her. Extra credit for that. Extra credit for all of these. Why? Because kids are lovers of extra credit and because we want buy-in.

21. Memorizer of the Cards – this kid knows what everyone in the class wrote down on their Circling with Balls cards. Then, whenever I ask in any given moment in class, unexpectedly, what So and So does, he answers quickly that So and So does whatever. Then I ask where So and So does whatever and he answers where. Then I go back to the other CI. This is also an extra credit job. In fact all the jobs are extra credit jobs.

22. Alarm clock/English Abuse – kid who can make the most annoying sound in class sounds off at the slightest sign that the teacher may be going into an English rant or when the class needs to take a quiz (sometimes we just need to stop the CAI and take the quiz. The kid sounds off and the teacher thanks her/him profusely and segues right back into Spanish. The message to the rest of the students is clear. We’re hear to listen to Spanish, not to listen to the teacher talk about Spanish in English.

23. Hoy (today) Kid – (Spanish classes only) – this kid shouts “OY!” à la AC/DC’s rendition of the song, TNT where the Australian band members shout, “TNT, oy! oy! oy! TNT, oy! … etc.). I linked it to ‘today’ by telling the class that the band didn’t know they were singing, TNT today! today! today! Corny, but it works.

24. Official Timer – this one is from Carla Butler. This kid times how long the class can go in the TL. Class times are written on the board. The kids get competitive and class pride is often on the line.

25. Vanna White – he or she strolls along the word wall and points out words as the lesson unfolds, helping the teacher.

26. Clapper Kid – this kid gets the clapper/noisemaker. Give a noisemaker to one (responsible) student who then, in those moments when applause is needed/earned, starts the applause. The teacher then is not the only person to initiate applause, there are two people. [credit: Abbey Parks]

27. Student Secretary – Judy Dubois in France has a student secretary in each class who gives participation points to students. She explains: “I give the secretary (who changes each class) a class list and their job is to tally the number of times students raise their hand and speak. When an answer or suggestion is particularly good or the question difficult, I give bonus points. If a student gets out of hand, they get a “yellow card” I rarely have to give a “red card”. Of course, this is France, so everyone knows that yellow card is a referee’s warning and red card puts you out of the game. The secretary writes yellow card or red card besides the student’s name. This system is much simpler for me because I don’t have to stop to write it down or give a lecture, I just say “yellow card” and go on with the lesson.”

28. Story Ender Fairy – this is the student who, as we say the three sentences speedily that wrap up a story as per the “Petit Renseignement” skill (#31 in TPRS in a Year!), waves his/her wand to make the actors fast forward to the end of the story. The fairy’s prop would have to be within reach of the kid.

29. English Patrol – this student shouts “alto!” if English is used. Timer will go back to zero. [credit: Kate Marquez]

30. Actors – will synchronize actions to teacher’s speaking or reading. It’s a job in that we always like to use our best, least distractible actors.

31. The Dialogue Bubble Kid, who runs across the stage with a big dialogue bubble with some key phrase written on it at various moments during Reader’s Theatre. [credit: Jason Fritze]

33. Cardboard Set Crew – this is a set of two or three artistic kids in each class whose job it is to instantly create – out of cardboard – a boat, a train, a tree, whatever is necessary during Reader’s Theatre or in a story. The admonition is to not have them create too many materials, and to do so only when some set object would really further the CI. Otherwise the crew tends to overbuild, as it were, when storage space is usually a problem and when the crew should be involved in the co-creation of the story most of the time anyway. This is Jason’s idea and it is a good one, especially for younger kids. Just go to Home Depot to pick up the cardboard – it’s everywhere on their shelves for the taking.

34. L2 Timer Kid – this student times how long we stay in the TL in a class period. [credit: Hayne Painter]

35. Capitaine Dictionnaire – Cheryl came up with this idea. It’s the kid who looks up the (very few) new words that the kids bring in via cute answers, words like “squid”.

The list continues with offerings from Kate. I include it here at the risk of creating a really long article but I want all the jobs in one place for ease of reference:

36. Appreciations — I am grateful to _____ who helped me by ______. OR I saw Betsy give Alfred a low five when he spoke French in the hallway to Prof. Slavic. She was really encouraging to him. We also have a person who calls on the other people to give their appreciation — usually it is an encourager and we limit them to 3 a day. I have 20 minutes to knock out a community meeting.

37. Kindness Recorder — a notebook or post-it notes (I like the hear ones) where a student records acts of kindness witnessed in the class. They are read once a week on your kindergarten day. They are not written in the TL (unless it is AP). This person reads at the end of the week a few of the acts of kindness they witnessed.

38. We Care Committee members — a couple of folks who write encouraging notes to absent students and kids who are in need of an “I noticed you . . .” Try to do at least two a week yourself per class.

39. Absent students — someone who writes or records the lesson of the day to share with anyone who is absent. They get together during the first few minutes to help bring the absent one up to speed or agree on a time when they can get together that day. Absent students should be greeted back into the class by you, but also recognized by someone in the classroom as well. This is important to say that “my peers care about my well being too.”

40. Moving students — a goodbye ritual that is designed by the class but says “you were a part of us and we wish you well wherever life takes you.” This could be a tiny notebook that the class puts together that includes things witnessed. I like the way you make me laugh, You were great at getting Slavic to giggle, I’ll miss your side comments, Lunch won’t be the same without you….”.

41. Cheerleaders – these are the folks that are responsible for remembering the gestures! You can use them for part of the class or all of the class, but they help get those gestures into our heads and bodies. Use kinesthetic learners!

42. Encouragers — these are students who verbally reach out to support students that might be struggling with the language or school. They don’t reach out to kids who are demanding attention inappropriate.

43. Wish Wells — this is a time (only take a few each day) when you acknowledge students need to send positive thoughts to someone or something (the basketball team, the dad having surgery, the kids taking the history test down the hall cause it was HARD). A student can lead this and you set the number.

44. Celebrations— Everything and all the time. Use the announcer job for that. They can announce birthdays, that everyone got 100% on the quiz yesterday, whatever.

45. Techie — handles the computer or the dvd or the whatever needs a technician not a teacher to do.

46. Lights — Turns them on to signal you are ready for class to begin and out as they leave the room. Everyone should have lights at least once a year.

47. Announcer — any class announcements for the good of the class—ie there is a change in the schedule for an assembly at such and such a time, etc.

48. Greeter — if you give up this, you are giving up one of the most important opportunities to connect with every student daily. But, there are folks who just do once a week greeting and have a student do it all the other times. I do about 70 kids every day as they come through the door. It is important to me to have a connection. And that connection includes touch (cause that is what turns the brain on!). I let them choose the connector—we’ve done elbow touches when flu was flying, fist bumps, high and low fives, whatever. . . And train them to look at you when you do it. It is your first opportunity to teach to the eyes. Download love in that look.

49. Goodbye Wisher – quiz or paper collector at the end of the period at the door who says goodbye to each on their way out.

50. Personal Secretary—responsible for seeing that your pointer, dry erase markers, roll book, water bottle, whatever are in place for you to do your schtick at the beginning of each period. They can also jump into anyone else’s job when they are absent. Be trusted to take stuff to the office, etc. “They is your BRAWAIN” when you are occupied in the land of a story. This is an honored and valuable position. Use it well. They are your future teachers. Train ‘em good.

In my class (Ben speaking here) we once had a group of kids – the Dog Barkers – whose jobs were to bark like dogs on certain cues, to mess with admininstrators, but that never really took off. I was all excited about, even had a theme song for them – a Ventures song in which hunting dogs actually bark as part of the music. Oh well. I got a little out there on that one.

Kids keep their jobs until the quality of what they have been chosen to do goes down or they choose not to do the job for some other reason. Kids usually jealously guard their jobs because they get extra credit (if they remember to remind me around the end of the grading period.) I have bumped up a grade by a full letter to some of these kids who were so helpful to me, so filled with good will because here was a class where they had a chance to play a role, during a grading term. If I am asked if I give extra credit I actually have an answer – I say only those who are good at their jobs during the grading term get extra credit. It really is a discipline ploy, and it works.

Giving a job to a kid who is in the bottom quarter of the class, or who acts like that because that has been his experience in schools up to the point when he walked into your classroom, goes a long way in keeping the class focused. The six most important jobs above, the ones that are necessary to drive my new weekly format (search “Weekly Schedule New (2011)”, the one based on Bloom’s taxonomy, are the three Structure Counters – knowing how many reps I got on each structure on Monday is very important to me. Then, on story days on Tuesdays I really need the Quiz Writer**, the Story Writer, and the Artist. Also, if you have seen a demo of the Word Chunk Team activity, you know that only a small goal of the game is to teach the language – the real purpose of that game is to take your three worst kids in the class and involve them positively, thus changing their entire experience of your class.

*Note: Ben Lev came up with a nice little set of instructions for the Quiz Writer. Here they are for those interested:

Querido/a Quiz Writer,

¡Gracias por escribir el examen pequeño!

• 1. Please write 10 statements in Spanish about the facts of the story.
• 2. Use the new vocabulary in the statements.
• 3. Write about half of the statements true and half false.
• 4. Write Verdad (V) o Mentira (M) depending on the correct answer.
• 5. Listen carefully to the spoken story to help you write in correct Spanish.
• 6. Please write 1-2 statements that can be inferred from the story: something that is not said directly but can be said indirectly, supported by knowing the facts.

Here is an article from way back in 2008 on a search that expands a bit on the above: