The DCMS Bat Signal: 9/23/19

Super me, super you, everyday heroes make dreams come true.

"The whole goal of teaching routines and procedures is to remove the excuses so that readiness to learn is expected, learning time is maximized and preserved for all students, and supplies and materials are well managed so that we continue to have them available for student use. Tight transitions between learning activities are evidence of excellence."

Tracking the Speaker: One part of SLANT

If I asked you to track, would you know what I meant? Would your students?

In the previous three years, we focused on teaching tracking as part of SLANT — an acronym used to gather students’ attention and focus them on someone or something. Tracking the speaker is a critical element of SLANT, mostly because it tells students where to look and it it makes compliance visible (we can see if students are engaged). We often tell our kids to “pay attention” or behave without telling them exactly what that means. One major benefit of SLANT is to give kids a crystal clear picture of your expectations and how they should show you they are on task. Tracking is the last letter in SLANT and arguably is the most important.

What is Tracking, and Why is It Important?

Tracking the speaker means watching the speaker with your eyes, following the speaker as they move around the room. It’s a really simple, yet important concept. Eye contact on the speaker is a great way to make sure students are listening and on task. Since teachers are frequently moving around the classroom and calling on students, tracking means looking at whoever the speaker is, wherever in the room they are. Keep in mind that students are speakers too! When a teacher calls on a student to give a response, students should also be tracking the student-speaker.

Using the term track and teaching it explicitly has huge benefits in the long run. It sets the expectation for paying attention to whoever is speaking and gives you a common term to quickly get stragglers on task. Telling your whole class to “Track Sara” will get them all tracking the speaker, wherever in the room Sara is.

How to Teach Students to Track the Speaker

First, teach students what tracking the speaker means and why it’s important. Tracking the speaker means watching the speaker with their eyes and explaining that “Tracking is important because it lets the speaker know you’re with them and value what they have to say.”

Second, model how to track. If you’re team teaching, co-teaching or have an assistant, you can use them to teach tracking easily. Have them model tracking you as you move around the room. If you don’t have an adult you can pull in for demonstration purposes, you can have a kid model it for you.

Third, give your students time to practice. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Have your whole class focus on tracking you as you talk, moving around the room. (This probably shouldn’t be while you’re introducing something else they should be paying attention to, just saying.)
  • You could turn it into a fun game where you move around the room quickly and have them follow you.
  • Give students a chance to be the speaker. Give them something easy to talk about and call on them in different parts of the room. Have the rest of your class track the person speaking.
  • You can also set the expectation that students wait for 100%, meaning everyone in the class is tracking before they start speaking. The speaker should never keep speaking when they don’t have all eyes on them.

Follow Up

Once you’ve taught it explicitly, make sure you heavily reinforce tracking in the beginning. The more you wait for all students to track, the more ingrained it will become for kids. Here are a few tips for reinforcing tracking:

  • If most of your class is tracking while you practice, but you have some stragglers, shout out someone who is doing it well around them. This will help them see examples and point out implicitly that their peers are doing it.
  • If you have a few kids who just don’t get it, you may have to find time in your day to review it with them in a small group. Bring them in, explain they aren’t in trouble and practice. They’ll probably love the extra attention. Once they’re back in class, make sure you shout them out when they are tracking after practicing.

Tracking the speaker is an element of SLANT, which we use across our school and have since the beginning. SLANT stands for:

  • Sit up
  • Listen
  • Ask and answer questions
  • Nod for comprehension
  • Track the speaker

There are many variations of SLANT out there, but all have the same underlying principle: you should set expectations for how kids act during direct instruction instead of praying they will figure it out on their own.

Upcoming Events

  • College Go Week - Dress up days 9/23 through 9/27 - See Laura Tice's email for deets.
  • School Board of Trustees Mtg - Wednesday, 10/9, @ 6:30 PM at South Elementary cafe
  • Band Concert - Wednesday, 10/9, @ 7 PM in the DHS gym
  • Quarter 1 IC Window Opens to begin Posting Grades - Wednesday, 10/9
  • DCEF Teacher Grants Due - Friday, 10/11\page\595
  • End of Quarter 1 - Friday, 10/11
  • Quarter 1 Grades Due for Posting - Monday, 10/21 @ 3PM
  • Fall Break (No School) - 10/14 - 10/18
  • Parent-Teacher Conferences - (2 Evenings) 11/7 & 11/14, 4:30 - 8 PM
Big picture
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Upcoming Meetings

  • PLC – Tuesday, 9/24, in The Bat Cave @7:25 AM
  • Faculty Mtg - Thursday, 9/26, in The Bat Cave @7:25 AM
  • PLC - Tuesday, 10/1, in The Bat Cave @7:25 AM
  • PLC - Tuesday, 10/8, in The Bat Cave @7:25 AM
  • Faculty Mtg - Tuesday, 10/10, in The Bat Cave @7:25 AM
  • PLC - Tuesday, 10/22, in The Bat Cave @7:25 AM
  • Department Mtg/Horace Mann - Thursday, 10/24 - meet in the training room first; then disperse to departments
  • PLC - Tuesday, 10/29, in The Bat Cave @7:25 AM


  • Department Money and Fee Money must be expended. Department Heads, please have all orders to me for approval by 9/27. Please check the google spreadsheet to detemine the amounts you need to expend.

  • Parent-Teacher Conferences are coming. Reminder! This year each teacher will schedule his or her individual parent-teacher conference time slots to ensure all parents get an opportunity to meet with a teacher. For one or two really tough kiddos, it is appropriate for more than one teacher to participate when meeting with parents; however, the norm should be one teacher with a parent/parents. Plan time for covering student progress, student strengths/growth areas, ways to improve, resources available, and share the ILEARN parent infographic. Infographic found here - The big key is for parents to sense that you know and care about their child. If any teachers have any parent meeting between now and conference time, feel free to count that as your parent/teacher conference. Please just document the meeting. If you want Heather, Laura, Dave, or Marsha to attend any of your conferences, then let us know. Marsha will provide dinner for the Teachers on 11/7 and 11/14. Please bring your own drinks.
  • PT Conference Scheduling - We will use again. More information will be coming with expectations for scheduling your conferences.

About Us: Mission & Collective Commitments

We are a collaborative group of educators committed to ensuring high student achievement.

We commit to…

  1. Focusing on student proficiency of Indiana College & Career Readiness standards, not just coverage of material.
  2. Working collaboratively to benefit all students with a focus on results.
  3. Join forces to learn by doing on a daily basis.
  4. Using frequent common assessments that inform and drive our instruction.
  5. Providing intervention and enrichment based upon the formative data.
  6. Furthering a culture that uses value-added language, encourages one another, and celebrates successes.