Submitted by Sandy Elder, Michigan

Idea posted January 3, 2002

I have suggested using a stopwatch to get the children's attention. Don't tell them what you're doing, and don't fight with them about their talking, just have a stopwatch, piece of paper, and pencil on hand one day, and keep track of every second they waste chatting. Then, let them know at the end how much time they wasted and ask them to come up with a plan for making up that lost learning time. It mustn't punish you, though. For example, give their grade-mates a Bingo party and have the chatty class make up their learning time instead. Then, if they continue, you continue with the stopwatch and let them know the next fun day you have planned for the non-chatty classes. Perhaps, eventually, they'll stop wasting so much time!

Sometimes the children ask for something that I didn't plan, and I think it's a compliment. I always say the same thing to him/her: If we have EXTRA time AFTER completing the lesson I HAVE PLANNED, I'll ask for favorites. I never scrap a lesson I have planned for a special request. I do occassionally tell them we're going to put our learning on hold and do favorites for fun, usually when they've been working well for several weeks (or when I NEED A BREAK!).

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