Sunday, January 6, 2013

Ground Rules

Collin started first grade back up this past Thursday (1/3). He is virtual schooled (online public school) so he is at home and, let me tell you, the first day back after a week or two long break is DIFFICULT! He doesn't like to do the work because he got used to non-structure and then he's suddenly structured again. It's hard for him, and the result of that is that it's hard on me too. However, this time it wasn't so bad.

This semester I have been taking a Classroom Management class (for those of you who don't remember, I am a junior in college working on my Educational Studies degree). One of the the chapters in the text discussed setting ground rules. The first couple of days of school the teacher should be teaching these and reinforcing these. How does one teach the rules? Well, here are three steps to teach them successfully and be sure that they do understand the rule(s).

  1. Describe and demonstrate the desired behavior. Tell the students what you expect from them, how you want them to obey. Be specific.Don't just tell the students you expect good behavior but tell them what good behavior actually means. Demonstrate the desired behavior as much as possible.
  2. Rehearsal - This is a great way to reinforce a rule or procedure and for you to determine if the student understands what he or she is supposed to do. This isn't necessary for all rules. The more complex the rule or procedure the more useful this tool is though.
  3. Feedback - The student needs feedback if he or she did well or poorly. They should know how to improve and what to do differently next time.
On Thursday, this is how I started the day. First, I showed Collin the schedule and went over each time and what we would do.
I also gave him my husband's old smartphone to use as a clock so he can keep track of the time himself. Giving him that little bit of power helps everything go smoother. Most of these things don't actually take him an hour to do either. Some only take 20 minutes. I explained to him that if he focused and got the work done then all the time left would be a break for him. He wouldn't be allowed any screen time though until all his school work was finished. So, he can choose to just go on to the next subject even if it's not time yet. Once he finishes all of his school work then he is allowed to play games but not watch any shows.

We went over these rules with the procedure above... I explained how it worked, then we discussed "if you do this then what will you do?" Finally, throughout Thursday I gave him feedback, mostly positive. He did such an amazing job!! :) YAY!! He is given rewards (frequent breaks or infrequent breaks but finishing his work and then getting screen-time).

I absolutely recommend setting the ground rules first. It was amazing the difference it made in our day. I will probably cover the ground rules before starting school after any week or longer break from school.

Here are a couple of pictures from our first day back at school after the winter break...
Learning about 2D shapes becoming 3D shapes. Super easy for him but he had fun making the shapes out of pipe cleaners. :)

They learned about tints and shades in art so they had to pic a color (primary or secondary) and paint a picture using only that color and shades and tints of that color. Kind of fun! :)

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