Structure sets limits. Examples of limits in classrooms include: furniture, size, temperature, sound, rewards, and consequences for behavior. All meant to direct, control, manipulate,organize, schedule, and maintain standards of behavior. On a bigger scale school organization or grammar is also included as environmental management
Interventions must be exercised cautiously. However, when a child is out of control, intervention is necessary, but in all situations the goal is for the child to exercise self-control. Therefore, the big goal is to reduce teacher intervention and support students so they can personally make good decision that create and maintain a safe and supportive learning environment.
Systems to help children organize: break down tasks, set priorities, structure and organize the environment, organize time, pair stimuli when possible (visual, auditory, tactile) and provide feedback in the form of encouragement, praise, and reinforcement.
Parents and teachers have to change from a verbal and reaction-oriented form of discipline to a positive intervening form of discipline. That means not waiting until something has happens and reacting, but step in before something happens and do or say something that will change what could happen, proactive.
- Suzie, you need to be nice to Jenny when she comes to play with you. She doesn't like it when you grab her Play-Doh. She wants you to share and talk to her about what you want instead of grabbing. Okay?
- Develop a sixth sense to know when to jump in. Usually, it is at the first sign of trouble. When Suzie grabs Jenny's Play-Doh the first time, stop what you are doing and go over and sit with Suzie and Jenny for a few minutes. If more Play-Doh is available, you could say, "Suzie, if you need more, get some from the box. Don't take Jenny's. Jenny needs her Play-Doh to make her creation." If there is not any extra, convince Suzie she had all she needs: "You don't need much to make a cookie", or, "Here, use the little cookie cutter to make a cookie."
- Stick around a little longer, and when the play is going smoothly make sure Suzie knows it: "Suzie, you and Jenny are playing nicely together. Doesn't it feel good to share? Tell me how it feels good."
- Or if Suzie continues to be uncooperative.
- "Suzie, I am sorry, but you can't take Jenny's Play-Doh because you want more. You seem to be having trouble sharing the Play-Doh, so you'll have to stop playing with it for a while. Sit in the chair for awhile and I can help you decide what else to do."
- Anyone who has worked with a hyperactive child might say two things: "The child would throw a fit," and, "What makes you think she will stay in that chair?"
- All hyperactive children would get out of the chair, so how do you keep her in the chair without physically restraining her?
- You may have to physically guide her back to the chair a couple of times, but eventually she will make the cause and effect connection. Try to help her calm down and change the subject to something else as soon as possible. Hyperactive students need to know what is going to happen, both if they cooperate and if they do not. Teaching stress management and relaxation techniques can be helpful.
- Hyperactive children often have difficulty understanding how other people see them or their actions. The use of role play and role reversal allows them to pretend they are you and that you are them.
- Allow children to take responsibility for their actions.
This accomplishes two very important goals:
- It teaches responsibility and allows children to make amends for their actions, and
- it relieves others of some of the anger and hostility they feel when the person responsible cleans up their mess.
- It is easier to remain calm if you know s/he will clean up the milk s/he spilled or scrub the wall s/he wrote on. Even if the child isn't able to clean the area to your specifications, let them start and do the best they can, then step in to help with the finishing touches. Or offer to clean it up together if s/he will cooperate.
- Keep things positive, step in before it gets out
of hand, redirect immediately, give specific,positive
statements. For example,
- Keep your feet on the floor.
- Walk. Instead of saying - don't tun.
- Color on the paper.
- That ball is used outside.
- Paints stay in the paint area.
- Scissors go in the scissor caddy when we are done using them.
- When the student has a temper tantrum, stop and think before you act. Ask yourself, Why is the student doing this? What does the student want?
- Use Post-its as a visual reminder to give that one second it takes to stop an impulsive act to hesitate, think, and stop. Because you want the child to stop, red or bright pink work well. Cut the corners off to make them look like a stop sign.
- Help students gain respect of classmates by focusing on what they can do. Encourage them in areas they do well. Make sure classmates observe their success.
- Activities, like catching a tadpole, can be unstructured, and hyperactive children do fairly well in activities with variety. Other activities may require more planning, like building with Legos or blocks, class projects, cooking projects, or playing a computer game.
- Have students talk about the rules. You may want to write them down as a visual reminder. Include when turns are to be taken and how to decide who goes first.
- Having students plan is a way to reduce impulsive behavior that causes problems.
Plan ahead as much as possible
- One-on-one games are better than team games that are heavy on chaos and light on structure.
- Swinging, jumping rope, and playing hopscotch are all better for a hyperactive child than playing tag or dodge ball.
- Problems arise with a rigid schedule, for example, every child rotates through one center each day: Monday - painting, Tuesday - blocks, Wednesday - an art project, Thursday - Play-Doh and Friday free center. It may be better to allow the child to choose when to do the activities, but require the child to do each activity every day and for no more than ten minutes a day, unless the child gets engrossed in an activity.
- Ten minutes of outside play is not always enough for some students (ADHD, ADD) and ten minutes of time-out is usually nine minutes too much.
- Group time has many distractions that make the development of listening skills difficult for some children (ADHD, ADD). These children do better in smaller groups and respond better when they have a specific task to do, so assigned tasks can be helpful.
- What would you do if a child knocked over another child's
block building while running through the block corner?
- A well-educated teacher will use redirection: Tell the children they may run outside, but not in the block corner, and we ask them to help rebuild the structure with the child who created it. Make sure the child who knocked over the blocks understands the problem his or her actions created for the other child and work to remedy them. Try to build understanding for the feelings of other children, a concept some children (hyperactive) have a hard time learning.
- Some children (hyperactive) need supervision and visual reminders of tasks and rules.
- While physical activity is important to children, the chaos of large team sports can be very difficult for some, especially the primary grade child. Some children (ADHD, hyperactive) will have difficulty with transitions or coming down from a high level of physical activity to a quieter indoor activity.
- Junior high and high school students can learn
to reduce impulsive behaviors with the reporter technique. Before you do something,
think about who, what, when, where, how,andwhy.
- Whois going to do this? Me, Kara.
- What?I am going to cook Chinese food for my world studies class and get an A.
- Where?In my second period class in world studies.
- How?Here the child needs to show some planning: "Mom is going to buy the food. I am going to take a pan and a hot plate..."
- Why?So I can get an A by showing the teacher how much I know about what people in China grow and eat.
Tools that affect environmental structure
- A computer for writing, spell and grammar checker, a video/ audio players and recorders for less teacher directed of print oriented learning.
- Use media with visual images to support learning with visual input. Big books, large screens, projection equipment, boards, posters, ...
- A quiet area or learning centers for children to elect to work, small group interactions, to work independently, or one-on-one with a teacher.
- Books with important facts highlighted by the teacher or to be highlighted by the student or two sets of books, one for home and one for school.
- Never pass-up a chance to help students develop self discipline, a positive self-image, and self-efficacy.
- Keep formal teacher instruction time to a minimal.
- Communicate expectations.
- Use teachable moments.
- Keep instruction student centered.
- Make the curriculum interesting an relevant
- Child centered learning activities
- Creative activities
- Good pace of lesson
- Developmentally appropriate activities
- Consistent routines
- Motivational activities and tasks
- Provide for choices
- Good teacher movement
- Appropriate expectations
- Good teacher monitoring of students
- Consistent interpretation of code of conduct and/or rule enforcement
- Maintain high expectations.
- Create a risk free environment.
- Create a positive environment.
- Communicate caring.
- Keep instruction interesting
- Include hands-on activities and exploration
- Allow time for completion of activities
- Use anticipatory set to focus students attention and closure to finish the lesson
- Lesson must be interesting and meaningful to students
- Keep everyone on task
- New exciting and challenging
- Use themes and subjects that interest the students
- Encourage and give specific praise and feedforward for accomplishments often
- Let the students choose how they want to do a lesson
- Let students teach part of a lesson
- Make student centered when possible
- Move around a lot from various places in the room and school
- Group work
- Avoid unnecessary interruptions
- Plan lessons with the different levels of students and your expectations for those groups in mind
- Enrich activities to go along with the lesson
- Introduce the lesson, try to get students excited, tell them the things they will be looking for and expecting to see from them
- Offer enough variety to keep them on task, give them different options within the activity
- Students talk about other places besides school where what they are doing can occur.
- Get the student to tell you what is expected of them
- Motivational activities, smarty tickets, clothespins or Popsicle sticks, 1, 2, 3 eyes on me, Clapping peer help, overhead, raise hand, note on blackboard
- Moving about room, proximity control, eye contact, name in discussion, peer helping, thumbs up, stop talking, wait-time, make mistakes on purpose, modeling, manipulatives, do not repeat answers, have conversation move around room
- Use overhead projector, chalk board, pictures, diagrams, models...
- Ask divergent questions to get more students involved
The classroom atmosphere must be conducive to thinking and problem solving. Students must feel comfortable that if they take a risk they will not be put-down. Teachers must provide support for students to achieve this scholarly atmosphere.
Teachers Create a Risk Free Environment when they
Validate student's feelings with statements like.
- You’ve worked hard on ...
- I know you are having difficulty doing this. It takes time to learn how to do ...
- It takes effort to concentrate with so much happening.
- Good, you chose to finish this before ...
Give students credit for learning and
Encourage them to reflect on the strategies and habits of mind they used.
- That’s a creative idea. How did you think ...
- Remember what Kelly thought of earlier? Could you use it?
- Good idea now you can finish. How did you think of it?
- Use that process and find a solution. Why did you select that process?
- Why would you want to try that?
- Good you almost have the answer. What made you choose that strategy?
- That is a very good strategy. What made you choose that strategy?
Give statements of information.
- Give clues for information they have overlooked.
- Give students clues for information they do not seem to know.
- Give clues on how to organize.
- Give clues on strategies to solve problems.
- Give clues on strategies to answer questions.
- Give students information they do not seem to know.
- Give information they have overlooked.
- Give information on how to organize.
- Give strategies to solve problems.
- Give strategies to answer questions.
- You know I wonder how people can ... (Complete with information on how to do something or on emotions people have.)
- Give clues on habits of mind that are useful for success (open minded, curious, persistent...)
- Give clues on process that might be successful (problem solving heuristics, observation, classification, inferences, sketches, lists...).
Use reflective summaries to clarify what students say or mean.
- What I hear you saying is ...
- I get from what you say that ...
- So you think that ...
- Let me put what I think you said in my words.
- So you feel that ...
- Forming groups is a class procedure. It can simplified with teacher assigned groups or more involved with student participation in the selection process. Either way if students have not experienced forming groups or group selection processes it will be inefficient and time consuming at first. However, it is a good investment of time, because each time students go through the process they will generally become more efficient and the time to complete the process will be reduced and they will become more tolerant of the process and the results. As student become familiar with different procedures to form groups, they will become good at suggesting an efficient procedure to form groups, as they will want to get started on the project. I have had classes that sometimes selected groups and were ready to share their suggestions as the last topic was being announced.
- Limit the number of students in each group:
- primary grades 2-3, unless the activity requires more.
- upper 3-4, unless the activity requires more.
- Assign a specific task to be accomplished. Display or give diretions to all members of the groups.
- Plan for all members to be active. May assign roles or tasks (time keeper, scribe, materials manager or getter, guide) until student know what tasks need to be done, then an optimal group will have members moving into roles as needed.
- Plan a need for group interdependency. Giving different materials to each group member or task. However, all members should have overall directions and any summary sheets for the overall task.
- Select a group leader
or allow a natural leader to assume role. A leader(s) will:
- focus the group,
- facilitate discussions,
- move the group along,
- help get back on task as necessary,
- help record necessary information (write answers, report, notes, ...)
- Limit the amount of time, 6-8 minutes for brainstorming activities, 10-15 for most primary activities and 15-20 upper elementary, unless the assigned task is intrinsically motivating for the students.
- Model voice levels that are acceptable and not acceptable. When you are talking to one group lower your body to their level and talk quietly so that other groups aren't interrupted.
- When necessary, select the groups, or discuss with students options for forming groups. If allow learners to select, place a time limit and give frequent updates as to time left. If time runs out, step in and assign. Like: Chris go over there and that will finish that group. Mary ... If groups are to work together for more than one day, then make sure you have a list of the members of each group. Remember to include learners who are absent in a group so they will be included when they return.
- Walk around (cruise) to collect assessment data that can be used to process group activity later. Collect both information for their group team work / social skills and content information.
- If there are many small groups consider joining the small groups to share and consolidate their information before all groups come together for a general class discussion. This saves presentation time, helps students gain self-assurance, and improves the quality of information shared with the class.
- When groups share, allow each group to voice its ideas and others to listen attentively.
- Require some type of individual accountability. A written answer or report from each student, random selection order for students to report, inclusion if students' ideas on reviews and evaluations, and drawing attention to novel ideas or ways to think about ideas that are new to you and might not have been presented.
- Include instruction of social skills as they need to be taught.
- Practice getting into groups and different arrangements.
- If necessary devise and explain consequences for disruption and non-participation. For some students, particularly social students, moving them away from the group until they agree to try to cooperate for the rest of the day is suffient.
- Group work should never go home with one person. It needs to remain in the classroom so it is available for all members of the group in case a member is absent.
- Change groups every time a new activity is started or after one complete rotation of tasks in a group and keep them heterogeneousas often as possible.
- Teacher chooses who will be in each group.
- Randomly with a check on one or two students that need to be placed with certain students.
- Mix students with expertise ro motivated for the topic with those who may not be motivated or need assistance. Groupings of this nature should be temporary and for only a particular skill.
- Randomly assign students. Computer generated groups, drawing student names from a hat, drawing topic assignments from a hat.
- Number students or give colors, say if want five groups give numbers 1-5, then group ones, twos, ... in groups. If want pairs could assign 1&2, 3&4, and pair 5's. This system can be used: dismiss for lunch, recess, go to the restroom, get drinks, Ones do everything first, then 2s and ... Then next time start with 2's ...
- Let student select groups.
- Group according to interest and friendship for certain occasions, with very careful teacher supervision.
- Group according to top three choices:
- Display a list of topics. Ask students to raise their hand when you name a topic and if there are the number of hands that you would like in the group, then pick them for that group. If the number of hands in the air is less, then assign them to the topic for now and move to the next topic. Continue naming topics and assigning students until all topics have been named. When you reach the end of topics return to the remaining topics that still need group members and see if there are others that want to join those groups. If so, assign them. If a all friendly impasse is reached, then have the students flip a coin to decide or use rock, paper, scissors.
- Display a list of topics. Ask students to write, on a slip of paper, their top three choices of systems. Collect the slips, randomly arrange them, then go through the slips one at a time and assign each student to their first choice as long as group membership is below the desired level. If the maximum group membership was reached, thenset their slip aside and continue with the rest of the slips ans assign the first choices as possible. When you have gone through all the slips and the first choices are assigned as possible, then return to the unassigned slips and assign students to groups as possible by their second choice. When all second choices are assigned as possible, do the same with the third choice. If after the third time through there are students who haven't been assigned to a group, then ask students in the order of the slips which of the remaining groups they would like to join.
A quiet corner in the room with a tent or book shelving to set it off. Should consider it there is a necessity of being able to view students in the quiet center.
- soft chairs
- bean bag
- head sets with soft relaxing music or nature sounds (bubbling water, chirping crickets, ...)
- Salt lamp
- Fairy lights
- cards with cues for relaxing
- sand table
- Play Doh or clay
- Pencils, crayons, markers and paper
Suggestions to manage:
- Keep supplies in an area and keep it organized.
- Scrap box for paper. manipulatives and junk boxes in tubs or boxes.
- Always store things in the same place.
- Classroom library: comfortable area pillows, many books, variety of difficulty and types.
- Set rules about the use of materials.
- Put materials that you do not want students to have away and set it off limits.
- Always have enough supplies for your planned activity.
- Provide free play when introducing materials.
- Provide instruction on how to use materials. Can provide guidelines without inhibiting students creativity or exploration.
- Provide information on safety concerns.
- Model proper use and discuss.
- Use window sills, bulletin boards, closet, space for clothes and shoes
- Custodian altered desks
- Mobiles from ceiling
- Teacher is accessible to students
- Arrange desks in cluster with a maximum of 4.
- Be aware of the lighting, sound, ventilation quiet areas, temperature.
- Groups should have space separating for movement and help communication.
- Each student should have a personal space.
- Use carpet squares to separate students.
- Use more integration to reduce the need for transitions. The more integrated the subjects the less the transitions.
- Use show and tell or bracketing to get started
- Teach the students how to get ready for class
- Students need to be responsible for getting to their own special classes and returning to the classroom appropriately
- Be flexible
- Have materials ready
- Put a Brain Teaser or problem on the board for students to work on until all are ready
- Put a note on the board so when students enter the room they know what to do
- The teacher can put a schedule on the board or have the students create one
- Start routine on the very first day, discuss schedule and procedures
- Use specific praise and encouragement.
- Use good closure.
- Integrate by tying subjects together.
- Dismiss in a creative way.
- Teach being first isn't always a big deal.
Joyce Epstein suggest there are six ways for parents and communities to be involved in student's education.
- Parenting, where families establish home environments to support children as learners.
- Communicating, design effective school-to-home and home-to-school communication about events and student assessment and evaluation.
- Volunteering, recruiting and organizing parent help and support.
- Learning at home, provide care givers with information and ideas on how to help students at home with curriculum related activities, decisions, and planning.
- Decision making, include parents and community members in decisions made by the school and develop parent and community leaders and representatives.
- Collaborate with community, identify and integrate resources and services from the community to strengthen school programs, family practices, and student learning and development.