I mentioned in the last post about my ‘demo’ table. Let me explain that a little further…
My current classroom consists of a main room shaped as long rectangle. My table setup of 8 tables is 2 tables deep by 4 tables long. Students are trained to travel down the main horizontal aisle when getting supplies, cleaning up & coming in or out of the room (more on traffic patterns in a later post).
Since my previous classroom was a HUGE square room, I struggled with where to do hands-on demos in this classroom – no room at the front & too far away from half the class to stand at either end. So after a lot of trial & error, I settled on pushing two tables together at the end of the room nearest the exit & sinks.
Students at these tables are taught early in the school year how to push the tables together quickly & carefully AFTER everyone has moved out of the way. Once tables are together & I have the materials set up, I call the students over to their assigned seats. Yep – I get to choose where they sit or stand around the demo table!! I write this seating arrangement on the back of the traditional seating chart for each class so both charts are easily accessible.
As a general rule, kids with behavior issues (you know who they are…) and those with learning difficulties sit so they have an up-close view. Those who follow directions best will stand behind those who are seated, alternating boy/girl whenever possible (unless your students are at that hormonal stage – in which case you have my deepest sympathies!)
Ideally, once you’ve taught the procedure (& practiced it a lot), everything should be ready to go in about 2-3 minutes with students in place and the demo ready to begin!
Before the demo begins, I do a quick focus activity to quiet everyone down called ‘Tap Tap’. To do this, I say “Fingers!” while holding up right & left pointer (index) fingers. Then we all begin to lightly tap dots in a circle around our ears. After checking to see that everyone is doing it correctly (and silently), it’s “Hands under the table if you’re sitting, hands at your sides if you’re standing.”
Tap Tap is a quick (about 30 secs or less!) & easy way to engage both left & right sides of the brain. When done correctly, students get quiet in order to concentrate on doing the movements correctly. As you look around your group, you’ll notice that your students who have learning difficulties struggle to get their tapping movements in synch – this is a good way to remind yourself which kids will need more help/refocusing on the day’s work…
Whenever possible, I also have a Visual Instructional Plan (learned courtesy of Tools for Teaching, The Fundamental Skills of Classroom Management by Fred Jones) that’s posted on chart paper OR whiteboard OR ActivBoard that reviews the main steps shown in the demo with simple illustrations they can follow. Those students who don’t retain info very long will really appreciate it! Eliminates a lot of “Now what do I do?”. Just point to the VIP and say “I can see you have finished step 3 so move on to Step 4” and walk away… Saves time, saves energy, and reduces frustration from those ‘hopeless handraisers’…
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