Monday Memo

Week of 1/19/2015

Reminders and Information

  1. CMIT Meetings - We will not be meeting with teams.

  2. Please remember to sign in on the weekends. Team Leaders are the only staff to have access to the building; the alarm is set otherwise.

  3. Mondays are now an afternoon of choice professional learning! The calendar of sessions/topics will be sent out through google. Remember you must attend a minimum of 5 of the 7 weeks. Please give ideas and help present. A schedule will be sent out on Thursday with the next two weeks of topics.

  4. Please write Thank You's for some of the speakers you saw last Friday. Nina and Jana will be collecting these and sending them out on Friday.

  5. Please make sure to be contacting parents every time you fill out an infraction on a student. Parents need to be aware of these infractions prior to it becoming an office referral.

  6. There will be a mad scientist in the cafeteria performing experiements for the student's during lunch this Friday, January 23rd.

Upcoming Events

Tuesday, January 20

  • CMIT day (no team meetings)
  • 5th Grade Scoliosis screening
  • Twitter Workshop after school from 3:15-4:00

Wednesday, January 21

  • Rock 'n Roll Wednesday
  • 5th Grade to Hendrick for music demonstration at 10:00
  • Zack and Jana out at principal meetings

Thursday, January 22

  • RTI meeting day
  • Vertical team meetings after school

Friday, January 23

  • Rasor Market
  • SBIC meeting at 8:00 am - Ana's classroom
  • Wellness Review
  • Mad Scientist during lunch (for questions please ask Jana)
  • TAH (Teacher after hours) Friday, January 23rd at 4:00- Café Del Rio – come and get to know your fellow staff members

Monday, January 26

  • UTD Science Demonstrations for 4th - 8:30 - 9:30 5th grade - 9:30-10:30

Tuesday, January 27

  • STAAR security training from 8-12 (Zack, Jana, Nina, Laura, and Mereena out)

Wednesday, January 28

  • Rock 'n Roll Wednesday
  • 3rd grade field trip to the Perot Museum

Thursday, January 29

  • UTD Science Demonstrations for 4th - 8:30 - 9:30 5th grade - 9:30-10:30
  • Staff meeting after school
  • International Fair from 5:45 - 7:00

Friday, January 30

  • UTD Science Demonstrations for 3rd- 8:30 - 9:30 3rd grade - 9:30-10:30
  • Rasor Market
  • Circus of the Kids 4th/5th at 8:30
  • Circus of the Kids for the entire school 1:30 in the gymnasium

Tech Tidbits

GoNoodle is a website that is full of brain breaks for kids of all ages. Go to to set up a free account and add variety to your brain breaks.

Our Staff Rocks!

Brags to......

To Nina Yates for all of her hard-work in preparing Career Day.

Cathy Carter & Chantell Pickles for checking out #PISDedchat for the first time! Way to go ladies! Looking forward to seeing you again next Tuesday!

Nina – for putting all the awesome college week/career day stuff together for our staff and students! You’re awesome!

To Patti, Athena, and Cathy for hosting the first mini PLC's! You guys did an absolutely fantastic job:) Thank you!

Melissa McCary, Ashley, and Taylor - thank you for encouragin the International Fair in your classrooms! You guys have provided 7 of the 10 performances for that evening!

Thank you Melissa Smith for taking time out of your busy busy schedule to help provide technology tidbits that are useful to the staff!

Thank you to Ana for helping with the Science Fair! You were a huge help and I really appreciated the help!

30 Techniques to Quiet a Noisy Class

30 Techniques to Quiet a Noisy Class

OCTOBER 21, 2014

One day, in front 36 riotous sophomores, I clutched my chest and dropped to my knees like Sergeant Elias at the end of Platoon. Instantly, dead silence and open mouths replaced classroom Armageddon. Standing up like nothing had happened, I said, "Thanks for your attention -- let's talk about love poems."

I never used that stunt again. After all, should a real emergency occur, it would be better if students call 911 rather than post my motionless body on YouTube. I've thought this through.

Most teachers use silencing methods, such as flicking the lights, ringing a call bell (see Teacher Tipster's charming video on the subject), raising two fingers, saying "Attention, class," or using Harry Wong's Give Me 5 -- a command for students to:

  1. Focus their eyes on the speaker
  2. Be quiet
  3. Be still
  4. Empty their hands
  5. Listen.

There is also the "three fingers" version, which stands for stop, look, and listen. Fortunately, none of these involve medical hoaxes.

Lesser known techniques are described below and categorized by grade bands:

How to Quiet Kindergarten and Early Elementary School Children

Novelty successfully captures young students' attention, such as the sound of a wind chime or rain stick. Beth O., in Cornerstone for Teachers, tells her students, "Pop a marshmallow in." Next she puffs up her cheeks, and the kids follow suit. It's hard to speak with an imaginary marshmallow filling your mouth.

An equally imaginative approach involves filling an empty Windex bottle with lavender mineral oil, then relabeling the bottle "Quiet Spray." Or you can blow magic "hush-bubbles" for a similar impact.

Teaching Chick places quiet critters on every desk. If a child becomes noisy, she moves the critter to the edge of his or her desk. "If I see them talking again, I will take their quiet critter." Kids still possessing their critters at the end of an activity get their name added to a reward chart.

If you want to go electronic, check out Traffic Light by ICT Magic, which is simply a stoplight for talkers. Other digital methods include the Super Sound Box, Class Dojo, or the Too Noisy App -- an Apple and Android tool that determines noise level and produces an auditory signal when voices become too loud.

Late Elementary and Middle Grade Attention Getters

Back when I taught middle school students, I would announce, "Silent 20," as a way to conclude an activity. If students returned to their seats and were completely quiet in 20 seconds, I advanced them one space on a giant facsimile of Game of Life. When they reached the last square (which took approximately one month), we held a popcorn party.

One of the best ways to maintain a quiet classroom is to catch students at the door before they enter. During these encounters, behavior management expert Rob Plevin recommends using "non-confrontational statements" and "informal chit-chat" to socialize kids into productive behaviors, as modeled inPlevin's video.

Two approaches for securing "100 percent attention" are modeled in a short video narrated by Teach Like a Champion author Doug Lemov -- a minimally invasive hand gesture and countdown technique ("I need two people. You know who you are. I need one person . . . ").

Another idea is to use a content "word of the week" to signal that it's time for silence. Examples: integer, renaissance, or circuit.

Quieting High School Students

Sometimes, rambunctious high school classrooms need a little longer to comply. In An ELT Notebook article, Rob Johnson recommends that teachers write the following instructions in bold letters on the chalkboard:

If you wish to continue talking during my lesson, I will have to take time off you at break. By the time I've written the title on the board you need to be sitting in silence. Anyone who is still talking after that will be kept behind for five minutes.

The strategy always, always works, says Johnson, because it gives students adequate warning.

Another technique, playing classical music (Bach, not Mahler) on low volume when learners enter the room, sets a professional tone. I played music with positive subliminal messages to ninth graders until they complained that it gave them headaches.

Call and Response

Below is a collection of catchy sayings that work as cues to be quiet, the first ones appropriate for early and middle grade students, and the later ones field tested to work with high school kids.

Teacher says . . . Students Respond with . . .

Holy . . . . . . macaroni.

1, 2, 3, eyes on me . . . . . . 1, 2, eyes on you.

I’m incredible . . . . . . like the Hulk. Grrrrrr. (Kids flex during the last sound)

Ayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy . . . . . . macarena.

I get knocked down . . . . . . but I get up again, you're never going to keep me down.

Oh Mickey, you're so fine . . . . . . you're so fine, you blow my mind -- hey Mickey.

The only easy day . . . . . . was yesterday. (A Navy Seals slogan)

Implementation Suggestions

For maximum effect, teach your quiet signal and procedure, as demonstrated in these elementary and high school classroom videos. Next, have kids rehearse being noisy until you give the signal for silence. Don't accept anything less than 100 percent compliance. Then describe appropriate levels of noise for different contexts, such as when you're talking (zero noise) or during a writing workshop (quiet voices), etc.

If a rough class intimidates you (we've all been there), privately practice stating the following in an authoritative voice: "My words are important. Students will listen to me." Say it until you believe it. Finally, take comfort in the knowledge that, out of three million U.S. educators who taught today, two or three might have struggled to silence a rowdy class.

Rasor Elementary

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