Lesson 3: Poster 1 - The Classroom Rules
The Classroom Rules
Note: Unlike the other metacognition posters, it is recommended that you print and put up on the wall the brown Classroom Rules poster, since it is repeatedly referred to every day. The other posters can be projected because they are not used every day.
Here are your scripted notes on Poster 1:
Poster 1 - Rule 1
“OK, this is our first poster. Will someone read Rule 1 please?” (Someone reads it.)
“It’s pretty straightforward, isn’t it? Your main job in this class is to do your best to understand the messages that I present to you. Is your main job in my class to memorize things for a test? No, it’s to understand the messages that I present to you every day in [name of language]. Any comments or questions? Then we’ll go to our next rule.”
Here are some additional explanatory comments on Rule 1, not to share with the students at this time but for your own information:
Listening with the intent to understand is crucial not just to our students’ success in our classrooms but also to their success in life. However, the point is rarely made in schools. Instead, students listen with the intent to pass the test. If your students do not cultivate this first rule, if they think that your class is, like most others to them, a game built around memorizing and testing, then they must be constantly reminded to listen with the intent to understand. Point to this rule often.
Poster 1 - Rule 2
“OK the second rule.” [(Someone reads it.) “OK this is the big one - I mean the really big one. This is the one that I probably refer to each year thousands of times in my classes, so get used to that. It’s that important. Questions?”
Poster 1: The Classroom Rules 7
CI Poster Scripts
Additional explanatory comments on Rule 2:
Left unchecked, some students will take only a few weeks before they have commandeered nearly complete control over a classroom. Therefore, whenever you see a side conversation in those first few weeks, immediately walk over to this rule and look at the kids who were talking and tell them that you are going to be doing most of the talking this year because you are the only one in the classroom who speaks the language. Stay on the problem kids. Much damage has been done because teachers have trusted a student after a brief talk in the hallway to change, when the child has over the years made almost a profession of lying to adults about changing their behaviors in class.
On the topic of seating charts, wait a few weeks at the beginning of the year before making one. That allows you to locate the problem kids first, and then separate them from their friends on the seating chart. Once you have figured out who they are, put them as far apart as is physically possible in your classroom and leave them there. If you are using the suggested Star seating chart (Poster 8), that would mean you could banish a pair of offending students to seats 19 and 35 on the chart. There are lots of possibilities....
Poster 1 - Rule 3
“OK, can someone read Rule 3?” (Someone reads it.) “Now, this term ...supports the flow of conversation... is interesting. Please be clear: I can’t give a B or an A to anyone who doesn’t support the flow of conversation in [name of language]. Are there any questions on this rule? Good, because I don’t want any surprises when grades come out.”
Additional explanatory comments on Rule 3:
Students who have never or only rarely experienced actual reciprocal back and forth human conversation in a class (first learned at the dinner table but rarely in schools) cannot be expected to be able to support the flow of the conversation in the class. There is no blame. Most children do not eat meals with their families anymore, and they have been taught that being in a class requires that they only need to be physically present. Therefore, they must actually be taught how to support the flow of language in your classroom. It is one of the biggest challenges we face when trying to align our language instruction with the research.
At this point, you may wish to put the kids in small groups and have them practice conversing with each other. Tell them about listening with the intent to understand, making eye contact, not interrupting, etc. See how they do.
Poster 1 - Rule 4
“OK, can someone read Rule 4?” (Someone reads it.) “OK what this means is that if we are to have a conversation, each of us has to do our half. The way we learn in this class is like a two-way street. Right now, on this two-way street, I will be talking in [name of language] and you will mainly be listening. But in a few years, on your side
8 Poster 1: The Classroom Rules
of the street you will be talking more and more in [name of language] and I will be listening more and more. But we won’t ever get to the point of you speaking unless you listen and try to understand a lot now, at the very beginning of your study of [name of language]. Everything depends on how you listen to my messages in [name of language] in this class. That’s what it means when it says that you have to do your 50% - it’s a two-way street. Any questions?”
Additional explanatory comments on Rule 4:
Comprehensible input is a two-way street in which we both do equal work, which then adds up to 100% effort by the group. I refer to this rule when I see a student not holding up their half of the conversation, which requires no speaking on their part obviously, but does require certain observable non-verbal behaviors, which is an important term that we will discuss in detail later when working with these posters.
Poster 1 - Rule 5
“OK, can someone read Rule 5?” (Someone reads it.) “This is a good rule that only concerns a few of you - the artists and the actors.”
At this point, project Poster #8 and explain how the seating chart works, pointing to where the artists sit in Hub A and where the actors sit in Hub C. This will pique their curiosity* about how the class works. Then say:
“We have the same artists all year, but we have different actors every day, so listen up if you want to be an actor. What Rule 5 means is that artists cannot add extra stuff to their drawings over here in Hub A and actors cannot add extra actions or words to their acting performances over here in Hub C. It will all be made clearer later, once you know how the class works.”
“Does everyone get that? Why do you think that it’s important for the artists in Hub A to not add in extra stuff to their drawings? And with the actors, why do you think it’s important for them to not draw or act stuff out that we didn’t say? (Let them think about that.) It’s because in this class we are always trying so hard to understand what is being said in the story that if someone adds new stuff into their drawing or their acting performances, it would confuse everyone. Now, the artists can add in a few things, like 10% of their drawing, but we will talk about all that later.”
CI Poster Scripts
*Showing the seating chart now is important. It is not just to pique the kids’ interest in the way the class works, but students like to know if their teachers are organized and know what they are doing. The seating chart serves that purpose. It builds your credibility, not to mention that it is a great seating chart. Why? It is because the students are much closer to you during class if you set your classroom up “sideways” instead of “longways”. This seating chart really helps with classroom management in this way.
Additional explanatory comments on Rule 5:
Actors, especially, can be major distractions if not reined in. That is one reason I don’t use props, or rarely, and even then only hats. Quiet, focused kids of good will who are kind make the best actors. You feel their strength and positive listening energy next to you as you teach. Avoid nervous, overly tactile, attention-seeking students. Actors absolutely must be corrected or fired if, during the creation of a tableau or story, they make a single move or do anything that you have not said happened yet – that is why this rule is worded in this way. So, whenever you notice an actor pretending to be a rocket flying to the moon when in the story they are still back on earth because you have said nothing up to that point about the rocket going to the moon, stop the actor and point to this rule. Artists, as well, must have the patience to not get too creative and start drawing in extra details that have not been established by the class.
OK - Let’s go on to the last rule here on Poster 1...”.
Poster 1 - Rule 6
“OK, can someone read Rule 6?” [Someone reads it.] “This rule may not seem like a big deal to you, but it is to me. I want you to quietly participate in this class and if you have things on your desks, it can be a distraction. So no backpacks to hide behind. Nothing to distract you. That’s what this rule is about. Any questions?”
Additional explanatory comments on Rule 6:
When a class enters the room and kids start putting their backpacks on their desks, it is recommended that you just say, “Don’t forget Rule 6...” in a cheerful way. Do not zero in on one student and say in a threatening way, “Take that backpack off your desk!” which can immediately become confrontational and set the class off on the wrong foot.
Concluding Comments on the Classroom Rules Poster
Don’t go over the rules in the first weeks of class. The kids are bombarded with rules on that day, plus there are schedule changes, etc. Moreover, kids tune out such discussion. Instead of talking about the rules, enforce them every day from the very first minute of class.
Repeatedly use the Walk Before You Talk technique (explained in the Star 1 book) to point to the rule being broken - it’s usually Rule 2.
We must remember that we cannot expect our children to know how to behave in our classrooms. We must show them what we want, even to the point of sitting down from time to time in a desk ourselves and modeling for them the desired behaviors of attentiveness.
If, in the first few weeks of school, we go to the Classroom Rules poster constantly, at every turn, in response to every single infraction by every student that we notice (even slight ones) as we teach, we will rarely if ever have to use them again for the rest of the year.