Spring Valley Elementary
How do Fairness Sticks Create an Equitable Learning Environment?
Ashley Barnes, Intern, Baylor University
Sami Tyra, MS Ed, Mentor Teacher, Spring Valley Elementary, Midway ISD
Melissa Cates, MS ED, Intern Supervisor, Baylor University
As an intern in a third-grade classroom, I became aware of a situation during my whole-group discussions following IRA. We have discussion time following each book we read during our RLA block. For the IRA, I am engaging all students within the room by reading aloud and displaying the book on our document camera. I do this to address all students within my class which includes four students with 504 modifications, five ELL’s, and three students with attention deficit disorders. During my questioning, the same students would be willing to answer and raising their hands. I noticed that students in my class were disengaged and beginning to have side conversations or talk over the students answering consistently. Therefore, engagement was lacking, and students were not gaining from these conversations. Within my plans were high-level questions to attract students activating prior knowledge, creating connections to the story, and analyzing story elements, but I was only engaging about five of my twenty-two students. I began to wonder how a process of randomly calling on students by implementing fairness sticks would affect this situation. In researching methods, I found many ties between equitable classroom talk and the importance of classroom management strategies. According to Tracy Garrett, there is a reciprocal relationship between engagement and classroom management and having engaging measures will encourage all students to be involved and prepared during the lesson. Further, Jensen, Valdes, and Gallimore state the importance of using equitable classroom talk to have all students involved in discussions and building their understanding. By having students involved in multiple discussions they are better prepared to communicate effectively and collaborate with peers. My hope was that through implementing these fairness sticks I would be able to increase student engagement during whole group discussions and allow all students to engage and benefit from the conversation. I believed that these sticks would aid in my ability to have all students be engaged and prepared to discuss within the whole group setting. Equitable learning environments will provide all students an opportunity to benefit from class discussion.
How does the implementation of fairness sticks affect student engagement to create an equitable learning environment within a whole group discussion setting?
I co-teach or full teach most of the 75-minute RLA block within my 3rd grade classroom. At the beginning of our RLA block we start with reading our interactive read aloud. During each book we stop periodically to discuss, and we have a discussion engagement was 96%, and week 3 overall engagement was 84%. Throughout the data collection process, I kept anecdotal notes on students I was hearing from, and which students were willing to answer regardless of if their name was pulled or not. These notes saw an increase in length of answer over single word responses and a decrease in the “I don’t know” answers. Additionally, I kept data on which types of texts we used, and which had more engagement. Seeing an increase in the average number of students willing to answer was encouraging and led to my last data collection, a student survey. I completed the student survey to see how the implication of sticks made them feel in the classroom setting. Many of my students enjoyed the use of this tool within our discussions and some did not have a strong opinion either way. Seeing this data was encouraging. Some of my students ask for the sticks in other subjects and lessons. I enjoyed seeing a classroom management device that was exciting for students. following the book. These questions are pre-planned through the Fountas and Pinnell curriculum that I involve students in discussing. I continued the use of this model throughout my research. To begin my data collection, I did not use the sticks and only collected baseline data. For this, I took data through a tally mark of who is participating the most and the least throughout our discussions. Using this method allowed to fully see who was engaged and involved in our discussion. This data showed me only twelve students were willing to participate in our discussion of the book. Using this data, I selected the least involved students and performed a baseline engagement form. This data showed they were only engaged between 58-75% during the discussion.
Following my initial data, I began implementing the fairness sticks. I repeated the same engagement form on the same selected students and saw an initial increase to 65-80% engagement. Although a small improvement, it was showing an increase in engagement as well as an increase in students willing to answer. I noticed an increase in diversity of answers from multiple perspectives which led to more meaningful discussions in the classroom. I heard more from my ELL’s as well as less confident students. In the last weeks, I completed an engagement form on randomly selected students to see overall my engagement during the discussion time. Week two the overall
The overall use of fairness sticks in my classroom was very beneficial. I enjoyed hearing from more of my students in a low-risk and safe environment. Using the sticks, was a low-stress way to engage more students and allow all an equitable environment to answer. The sticks served as a method to hear from more student populations within the classroom without specifically calling any student out. Students identified as ELL’s sometimes need more wait time prior to answering a question, regarding this I would always wait about 15-20 seconds before pulling a stick. I think this wait time allowed all students a chance to produce their answer before anyone was called. This step added so many benefits within the quality of answers and reduction of the “I don’t know” answers. I think these sticks also served to build up the confidence of my students who may not have had the confidence to answer on their own. Allowing an easy response, and then receiving the positive praise was a wonderful benefit from using this method. I think this method also allowed students to hear multiple perspectives which was wonderful. All students are going to have different backgrounds and experiences, allowing all these connections to be heard and brought to light allowed for meaningful discussions. In an overall effort to hear from more students and increase engagement I believe this method to work immensely. However, these sticks do not serve beneficial on every question. On a quick question during the reading, the sticks added too much time and sometimes were distracting. For quick questions having a hand signal or another method to get a whole group answer would be more beneficial to students. But for full discussion or questions requiring a more in-depth answer the sticks are wonderful in selecting students to answer. Further, these sticks could easily be used to differentiate for students. Based on individual needs questions could easily be repeated or reworded to serve all within the discussion. Thinking forward I am curious how this method could be used within a small group setting to enhance students’ discussion for guided reading, or math small groups. I am also curious to see if they would have the same benefits regarding student engagement, and the benefit of hearing multiple perspectives to create meaningful discussions in other disciplines. I plan to implement these sticks in further teaching to ensure I can hear from multiple students and build confidence.
Garrett, T. (2014). Effective classroom management: The essentials. Teachers College Press.
Jensen, B., Valdés, G., & Gallimore, R. (2021). Teachers learning to implement equitable classroom talk. Educational Researcher, 50(8), 546–556. https://doi.org/10.3102/0013189x211014859
Impactful Differentiation: Moments They’ll Remember
Amanda Burke, Intern, Baylor University
Kailyn Conrad, MS Ed, Mentor Teacher, Spring Valley Elementary, Midway ISD
Melissa Cates, MS Ed, Professor, Baylor University
Amongst a guided math group of six second-grade students, I have noticed a negative response when they are asked to engage with online programs on their iPads after completing their designated schoolwork. I have wondered if I could introduce a creative board game project-based activity that would engage students while simultaneously enriching their learning. According to Davis (2019), “creativity directly enhances learning by increasing motivation, deepening understanding, and promoting joy” (pg. 2). The research was conducted with four girls and two boys of multiple ethnicities and socioeconomic statuses. Baseline data was collected through a student interest survey and anecdotal notes.
What are the benefits on student engagement of implementing a meaningful extension activity, such as a student-constructed cross-curricular board game, as opposed to utilizing online programs like MobyMax and IXL?
My method is related to my question/wondering as I sought to find evidence to support the idea that creating more meaningful extension activities can both further engage and enrich students’ learning. The participants in this study, as earlier mentioned, were six second-grade students; four girls and two boys of multiple ethnicities and socioeconomic statuses. I collected my data through a student interest survey, both prior to beginning research and following, as well as anecdotal notes. The steps in my procedure were as followed: first, I introduced students to their project that they would work on and related it to an engineering design unit that students participated in the prior semester. Next, I showed students an example of the board game design. Students then worked on their “rough drafts” in their math notebooks. Each student individually created what they would want their own board game to look like. Finally, students collaborated and gathered ideas from each other to create one large game board that eventually will be used to play with upon completing their work. I collected anecdotal notes on students’ comments on enjoying the activity as well as the frequency of asking when they could work on it. I analyzed my data by noticing how at the beginning of my anecdotal notes/survey interest survey, students complained more about being done early and having to work on online programs such as MobyMax and IXL. The results of implementing this project were very positive as I saw students increasingly more excited to work on this extension as well as asking less to work on something else. These results relate to my question/wondering as I saw that student engagement was positively benefitted. The results of this study also directly correlated to my previous research findings. When researching, I had discovered that there are significant benefits to creativity among students in a classroom setting. I found in an article titled “Creative Teaching And Teaching Creativity: How To Foster Creativity In The Classroom” that “creativity also directly enhances learning by increasing motivation, deepening understanding, and promoting joy” (pg. 2). As related to this, my findings proved that creativity promotes all these things: motivation, understanding, and joy. Specifically, I discovered that my students had developed increased motivation overall as they showed more diligence in working to complete their schoolwork knowing that they then had the opportunity to be creative.
My study will affect my instructional practices by encouraging me to continue to think about creating meaningful extension activities that will not only keep students busy but also engage them in an enriching way. A strength of this study was that it challenged this particular group of students in a productive way. As noted in my Methodology/Results, students worked hard to complete their designated schoolwork and knew when it was complete, they then had the opportunity to be creative and express themselves through demonstrating their knowledge of prior content. A weakness of this study is that students became impatient with the creative process and were eager to play their game. I often had to encourage students to keep working. An additional wondering is if this extension could be used in a whole class context or if it is best reserved for a small group of similar academic abilities.
Davis, Posted By: Lauren Cassani, and Lauren Cassani Davis. “Creative Teaching and Teaching Creativity: How to Foster Creativity in the Classroom.” Psych Learning Curve, 7 Oct. 2019.
Meeting the Social-Emotional Needs of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Hannah Davis, Baylor University
Kelly Capron, M. S., Mentor Teacher, Spring Valley Elementary, Midway ISD
Jina Clemons, Intern Supervisor, Baylor University
In a fourth-grade classroom, I observed the social-emotional deficit students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) faced. Students with ASD often are impaired in interpersonal relationships, communication, social cognition, and processing emotional signals. ASD affects not only the emotional development of these students but also the academic advancement. According to Ahlers (2017), “Core deficits in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) center around social communication and behavior. For those with ASD, these deficits complicate the task of learning how to cope with and manage complex social emotional issues. Although individuals with ASD may receive sufficient academic and basic behavioral support in school settings… these issues significantly impact student learning” (p. 3). Research was conducted in the classroom with one student identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Baseline data was collected through biweekly social skill mini-lessons and anecdotal records.
How might direct interventions affect the social skills among students with autism spectrum disorder? How might these interventions affect the student’s self-image and confidence in social settings and correlate to their academic achievement?
Student A is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and is identified as Emergent Bilingual (EB). Students who are identified as EB and/or ASD are at an extreme deficit in their social-emotional progression in comparison to their peers. It is clearly observed that student A struggled greatly in social situations regarding communication, processing emotional signals, social cognition, and interpersonal relationships. In hopes to encourage better accountability of learning as well as increase social skills with peers, I pulled out student A biweekly for six weeks to conduct mini lessons covering interpersonal relationships, communication, emotional regulation, social cognition, and processing emotional signals.
Each lesson began with me asking student a series of self-reflection questions relating to his knowledge of his own emotional regulation and confidence in handling everyday social situations and academic misconceptions that I had observed during my time working with him in the classroom. The eight self-reflection questions acted as a guide for planning each of my mini-lessons with student A. Questions were to be answered by rating oneself on a scale from 1 to 5, and I encourage student A to use the full range of the scale in hopes to see slight improvement throughout this study. Questions asked were as follows:
- How comfortable do you feel with raising your hand to ask a question in class if you are confused during a lesson on a scale from one to five?
- How comfortable do you feel when speaking to a friend in the classroom on a scale from one to five?
- How comfortable do you feel when talking to a person you have just met on a scale from one to five?
- Describe a time you felt happy.
- Describe a time you felt sad.
- Describe a time you felt angry.
- Describe a time you felt worried.
- What emotion are you feeling now?
Through student A’s responses I was able to quickly identify his lack of ability to decipher the emotion sad compared to the emotions of mad/anxious. At the beginning student A was unable to respond to open ended questions. When asked to reflect on a time where he felt happy or angry he tended to shut down and feel overwhelmed. The response to open ended questions could be related to his ASD diagnosis as well as his EB status. Questions that were to be responded to using a scale were easier for student A to respond to. It was not until the last two weeks of my data collection that I began to collect open ended responses.
My intention of these lessons was to provide emotional support to this student by encouraging accountability for one's learning. Mini-lessons would begin with a short story about an example of a time to feel angry, mad, sad, happy, or anxious. I intentionally created stories that included hobbies or interests of students in order to encourage high engagement. After telling a story that student A could relate to I would ask him to pretend that he was the main character of the story we just discussed and how he would feel. At first the abstract request of providing answers using metacognition was a daunting task for student A. I decided to use sentence stems in order to help guide responses and conversions, this scaffolding addition to my lesson was a great asset to the communication of my EB student. Through the six weeks, student A slowly began to be able to provide a response to my questions about how he would feel in situations stated in the stories I provided. We then discussed ways to appropriately respond to each social situation whether it be a happy response or an angry response.
Each lesson we also discussed appropriate responses to handling misconceptions in the classroom. I noticed due to student A’s ASD diagnosis and EB identification he tended to be lost in lessons but pretended that he was understanding in order to blend in with his peers and not draw attention. I believe that increasing Student A’s self-confidence and emotional awareness will result in higher engagement in the classroom thus improving the student's ability to communicate his lack of understanding with his peers and teachers.
I quickly noticed an increase of interest in social activities with student A after our mini- lessons. After a few weeks of encouraging question asking during lessons throughout the day I began to notice student A’s engagement increase throughout lessons as well as contributions to class conversations. I intentionally seated him near peers who were close to his academic level in order to avoid the feelings of embarrassment that he had once felt before. Student A began to no longer self-isolate during recess and lunch but participate in playing with his male peers. Student A still struggles to provide examples of times in his life where he felt different emotions but is now able to use the social strategies we practiced in his academic and social life.
The data confirmed the findings in previous research articles that I had studied such as the statement, “Core deficits in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) center around social communication and behavior. For those with ASD, these deficits complicate the task of learning how to cope with and manage complex social emotional issues. Although individuals with ASD may receive sufficient academic and basic behavioral support in school settings… these issues significantly impact student learning.” (Ahlers 2017).
Based on the results, I am continuing these biweekly mini lessons in interpersonal relationships, communication, social cognition, and processing emotional signals. I have discussed these results with my mentor teacher, as well as the Special Education Specialist at my school. We have adjusted student A’s seating position in class in order to continue his classroom engagement during instruction. In the future, I will be implementing social-emotional mini lessons with my students who are identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder, because of the clear correlation in the data between self-awareness/emotional regulation and classroom engagement. If I had the opportunity to conduct this study again, I would have studied this student’s progress over a longer span of time in hopes to show a greater increase in social-emotional ability. For example, I would have liked to require student A to complete a summative assessment such as a portfolio showcasing student dialogue, art, and writing samples showing the gradual increase of self-awareness and emotional regulation.
Ahlers, Kaitlyn P., et al. “Supporting Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Understanding and Coping with Complex Social Emotional Issues.” School Psychology International, vol. 38, no. 6, Dec. 2017, pp. 586–607, doi:10.1177/0143034317719942.
Argyle, M. (1999). Development of social coping skills. In L. Frydenderg (Ed.), Learning to cope (pp. 81–106). New York: Oxford University Press.
Gökçen, E., Petrides, K. V., Hudry, K., Frederickson, N., & Smillie, L. D. (2014). Sub-threshold autism traits: The role of trait emotional intelligence and cognitive flexibility. British Journal of Psychology, 105(2), 187–199. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjop.12033.
Brain Breaks and Student Engagement
Bailey Richard, Intern, Baylor University
Amy Becker, MS Ed, Mentor Teacher, Spring Valley Elementary, Midway ISD Melissa Cates, MS Ed, Intern Supervisor, Baylor University
As an intern in a first-grade class, I noticed that when we met together as a whole group on the carpet, students were not paying attention. Instead of focusing on the lesson being taught, students’ attention was elsewhere. I observed students having side conversations, rolling around on the carpet, or looking around the classroom. At the beginning of the school year, students received one Brain Break every day. As the school year progressed,students received one Brain Break each week. Due to scheduling, Brain Breaks were no longer incorporated into our daily schedule. When I started noticing students’ lack of focus, I began to wonder how I could keep them engaged during lessons. By having to redirect students’ attention back to the lesson, time was being wasted, and I couldn’t teach everything that was planned. According to Zhou (2020), “(brain breaks) aid teaching by improving on-task behavior and focus” (p. 10). My goal was to implement 1–2-minute Brain Breaks that consisted of dancing, meditation, and singing before each station to increase student engagement.
How does the implementation of 1-2 minute Brain Breaks before each station impact student engagement?
The class consists of 20 diverse students in the 1st grade between the ages of 6 and 7. I collected data by completing engagement forms, collecting tallies of students’ disruptions, and taking anecdotal notes. Before beginning my Action Research, I explained to students that I’d be incorporating Brain Breaks before each station to keep them engaged when we met on the carpet during whole group instruction. Next, students participated in a variety of different Brain Break activities, such as a game of Simon Says, Guess the Word, or Go Noodle dance videos. Then, when students were on the carpet during whole group instruction, my mentor teacher or I would collect data on students’ engagement. During this time, I observed students blurting during Interactive Read Alouds. I also noticed that students who weren’t paying attention on the carpet needed to be redirected. At the end of the data collection period, I looked for patterns in the engagement forms and comparisons during observations. I noticed that students’ engagement before and during the incorporation of Brain Breaks, did not change. Students were fully engaged during Brain Breaks, but student engagement decreased during whole group instruction. Students were easily distracted by their peers and other external variables (e.g., masks, clothes, surroundings, etc.).
Although I didn’t observe an increase in student engagement in this class, I still believe that Brain Breaks are beneficial to students with a solid foundation and classroom routine. In a study done by Jordan A. Carlson (2014), it was determined that “implementing classroom physical activity can improve student physical activity during school and behavior in the classroom.” When incorporating Brain Breaks in the future, I will include them into students’ daily routine beginning from the first day of school. By having a predictable classroom routine, there will be less disruptions and increased student engagement. I wonder if the incorporation of Brain Breaks starting on the first day of school would have shown different results.
Immordino-Yang, M. H., Christodoulou, J. A., & Singh, V. (2012). Rest is not idleness. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 7(4), 352–364. https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691612447308
Terada, Y. (2018, March 9). Research-tested benefits of breaks. Edutopia. Retrieved November 27, 2021, from https://www.edutopia.org/article/research-tested-benefits-breaks.
Willis, J. (2016, December 7). Using brain breaks to restore students' focus. Edutopia. Retrieved November 27, 2021, from https://www.edutopia.org/article/brain-breaks-restore-student-focus-judy-willis.
Zhou, K., He, S., Zhou, Y., Popeska, B., Kuan, G., Chen, L., Chin, M.-K., Mok, M. M., Edginton, C. R., Culpan, I., & Durstine, J. L. (2021). Implementation of Brain Breaks® in the classroom and its effects on attitudes towards physical activity in a Chinese school setting. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(1), 272. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18010272
Effect of Classroom Management Games on Student Behavior
Halie Standifer, Intern, Baylor University
Thelma Collinsworth, BSEd, Mentor Teacher, Spring Valley Elementary, Midway ISD
Melissa Cates, MSEd, Intern Supervisor, Baylor University
In a second grade classroom, I noticed that six students had shown ongoing behavior concerns and were receiving frequent consequences. In my classroom, when a student misbehaves, he or she gets a warning. However, if that behavior continues, the student will have to flip his or her card on a pocket chart in the back of the classroom. Depending on the color card, students will have to walk laps for 5-15 minutes during recess. The same students were flipping their cards even when positive praise, specific corrections, and rewards were used. These students were continually missing recess by walking laps. Additionally, these six students have seen their peers getting rewards such as tickets or a day using a pen on all written work. Unfortunately, these rewards have not motivated these six students to change their behavior and work towards the prize. Thus, I wonder how using classroom management games throughout the school day will help reduce the amount of behavior issues and consequences given. According to Burden (2000), “Behavioral theorists stress that individuals are motivated when their behavior is reinforced” (pg 5). I hope that these games will be fun and competitive, encouraging students to want to change their behavior on their own without my mentor or I having to inform them to do so.
How can the utilization of classroom management games throughout the school day reduce the amount of behavior issues and consequences among six disruptive second grade students?
In my second grade class, there are six students, four boys and two girls, of multiple ethnicities and socioeconomic statuses, who are the ones often misbehaving and walking laps. All of the students are eight years old. Five students are white, while one is black. One student is Tier 2 for math and one has ADD.
To collect data, I administered weekly engagement forms, played and logged the results of three classroom management games, daily logged the amount of flipped cards per student with reasons why, and daily journaled. These data collection strategies helped me compare the number of flipped cards each week, as I wanted to see fewer flipped cards among my six students. Furthermore, I compared engagement forms to see if my students were more engaged using the classroom management games and how this compared to their engagement during the baseline data week. To begin my research, I administered an engagement form on Thursday to analyze how engaged my six disruptive students were after a week without any classroom management games. Throughout the week, I daily logged the amount of flipped cards these six students received using tally marks with anecdotal notes and wrote in a reflective journal. The following week, I introduced the game “Teachers vs Students.” I held a class meeting to explain the procedures and allowed students to create their own criteria for getting a point. The criteria were recorded on an anchor chart for reference. My students and I played this game as a class and at the end of each day, I gave tickets to the whole class if they received more points than the teacher. Along with the flipped card log, daily journaling, and engagement form at the end of the week, I took anecdotal notes of why points were given to the teacher and if any of my six students were the cause. The next week, I repeated the process with the game “Classroom Bingo.” I ended up not holding a class meeting as my mentor played this game with my students before Christmas break, so they all knew the rules and criteria. I daily logged the amount of pieces given out, as well as the reasons why. I also indicated if any of my six students were the cause of not getting a new piece. When my students got a bingo, they would receive a prize, such as sock day. In addition, I continued the same data collection strategies as the past two weeks. The last week, my students and I played the game “Build a Snowman.” I held a class meeting to teach the procedures and had students create the criteria for receiving a snowman part. I ended up playing this game whole class using a digital snowman. However, it became difficult for me to remember to give students snowman pieces when I was not using my iPad, so my mentor drew a snowman on the whiteboard to remind my students of their progress. Students started with a blank snowman, and throughout the week worked together to earn various parts, such as the body, arms, eyes, and hat. I then drew the selected part of the snowman on the whiteboard when students were exhibiting positive behavior. Once the snowman was completed, students could have a “friendly lunch.” Moreover, I daily recorded how many snowman parts were earned and noted why, with emphasis on my six selected students. I also used the same data collection strategies as the previous weeks.
I analyzed the patterns and trends in my data from every week to see if my six students decreased in the number of flipped cards when classroom management games were used. I compared the flipped cards and engagement forms every week to see if students were more or less engaged and the number of behavior issues. My data revealed that flipped cards inversely impacted the results of each game. On days when students flipped their cards many times, the whole class was still able to get a game piece, but on days when few students flipped their cards or none at all, students did not get a game piece or win the game. I also noticed that my students were not successful in completing every game each week. My six students had the least flipped cards when we played “Teacher vs Students,” but were the most motivated during “Classroom Bingo,” where they had more flipped cards and were unable to get a bingo. I think my students increased in motivation when we played “Build a Snowman,” but I saw a drastic increase in flipped cards. However, all students, but one decreased in the total number of flipped cards by the end of my study. These five students showed less behavior concerns, revealing that they were more focused and took responsibility for their actions. My students were the most engaged during the baseline data week with no classroom management games played. Students decreased in engagement after every classroom management game, as the highest engagement was during the first week of games. My data proved that classroom management games did aid engagement as engagement was always 85% or more. Overall, my data showed that classroom management games helped reduce the amount of behavior issues and consequences among five of my six disruptive students.
In the future, I will continue to play classroom management games. However, as I played these games, I struggled to be consistent. I would forget to give students a point or a piece in the game as I was busy teaching. It would help if I played the same game for more than a week as students would have more opportunities to complete the game. My students did enjoy playing each game and got excited to win the prizes. These games brought my students together as I had students who were motivating their peers to be on their best behavior. This led to my students remaining more engaged during lessons to get the prizes. I believe that my students varied so much on each engagement form because of the subject it was taken in and whether my mentor or I administered it. I wonder if my consistency with the first classroom management game led to higher engagement or if it was due to my students’ initial excitement. Also, I wonder if my one student increased in flipped cards due to not being responsive to the classroom management games or because of his ADD. From my research, I learned how to use positive praise and both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards to help all students remain engaged and motivated even when I was focusing on only six students.
Burden, P., 2000. Powerful classroom management strategies. 1st ed. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin Press, pp.1-5.
Ellsworth, A., 2021. Digital Classroom Management Reward Game - Build a Snowman. [online] Teachers Pay Teachers.
Finley, T., 2016. 19 Big and Small Classroom Management Strategies. [online] Edutopia. Available at:
Hahn, N., 2021. Learn How to Play Teachers vs Students—A Fun Classroom Management Game - The Art of Education University. [online] The Art of Education University.
Marquez, A., 2021. Classroom Management Games - Teach Create Motivate. [online] Teach Create Motivate.
Blurting: Disengaged Interruptions or Avid Participation?
Chloe Thomas, Intern, Baylor University
Nicole Fanning, M.Ed, Mentor Teacher, Spring Valley Elementary, Midway ISD
Melissa Cates, M.Ed, Intern Supervisor, Baylor University
I noticed second grade students’ consistent calling out during our class read aloud. These blurt outs ranged from questions related to the story to off task statements that would cause the read aloud to derail. According to Dr. Shore (2021), “Whatever form the interruption takes, students who call out can get you and the class off track. They may also prevent other students from participating.” (p. 1). Research was conducted in the classroom with twelve girls and ten boys of multiple ethnicities and socioeconomic statuses. Baseline data was collected through engagement forms and call out records during the read aloud lessons.
How will the use of the classroom management strategy, Blurt Buttons, decrease blurting and increase engagement during the read aloud?
Before I introduce our new strategy, I will tally how many students blurt out while my mentor is teaching, how many students blurt when I teach, and have an engagement form taken on students who don’t participate. By the end of my research, my hope is that blurting will decrease and my students who are disengaged will engage again. Once my preliminary research is finished, I will discuss blurting with students. Together as a class we will discuss what a blurt is and why it is disruptive. We’ve had this discussion before, but this reminder will be necessary for the set-up of blurt buttons. Once we’ve discussed what blurting is I will introduce blurt buttons. I will tell them that the goal is for there to be no blurting out during our read aloud and together we’re going to work towards that. We will set our first goal of the amount of blurts allowed. Once they’ve set their goal of blurts, we will determine the reward that we are working towards. Throughout our reading lesson I will tally the amount of blurts we’ve had, and at the end of each section I will add buttons to the jar. I will keep track of the amount of blurts each day and if they stay under our goal, they will get their reward at the end of the week. Each week we will set a lower goal until we can get zero buttons.
Throughout baseline data collecting, I had between 36-54 blurt outs but between a 93%-98% engagement. Here is where I realized that not all blurting was bad. There are different types of blurts. Some are off topic and can derail a lesson while others are showing that the student is engaged in what we are reading about. This led me to add in the hand signals to my plan before we started. We needed to discuss different types of blurting and explicitly teach signals that would show them when it is acceptable to blurt out or not. Our initial conversation as a class was set aside to learn the hand signals and I stayed at the hand signal phase for a week. I wanted the students to be set up for success before we added in the buttons and reward system. The students caught on very quickly and were eager to add in the buttons. I maintained the hand signals and the next week we began our button and reward system. Our first class goal was ten. I emphasized that ten is not our ending goal because we don’t want to have our lessons interrupted ten times. The class agreed that zero should be our end goal. Over time, we slowly decreased our class goals and the students showed they were capable. Even when our goal was greater than zero, they were able to not blurt out through the final lesson I recorded for. This showed that the students had mastered not blurting and were able to work together to achieve their class goal. I think this was effective strategy for controlling blurting during our read aloud.
The last week of data collection I challenged my students by setting the goal as less than 3 every day. My last day was our major goal of zero blurts. They earned the biggest prize of 10 minutes of extra recess. My engagement increased immensely, and my students were engaged in the story and the discussions, as well as the management strategy. I recommend using this strategy with the hand signals and make it increasingly more difficult as we went on. At the beginning of my research, my goal was to eliminate all blurt outs. However, as I collected my initial data, I realized that I didn’t want to eliminate all blurting from my lesson. There were times where I wanted everyone to answer, and I knew their occasional exclamations meant they were engaged with the story. I needed to regulate when they were shouting out and make my expectations clear for the students. This is when I met with my supervisor and decided to add the hand signals to my strategy. This made my expectations clear for my students and gave clear lines of when they would and wouldn’t earn a blurt button. I would raise my hand for when I wanted them to raise their hand and I would move my hand in front of them when I wanted them all to share.
Anything outside of this or the occasional turn and talk would earn the students a blurt button.
This system was effective for my students and changed the way we do read alouds. The hand signals were explicit and clear, and the class reward motivated all students. I think a future wondering I have moving forward is: how can the hand signals and blurt buttons affect other whole group activities?
Shore, K. (n.d.). Decreasing a student's calling-out behaviors. Dr. Kenneth Shore. Retrieved November 28, 2021, from http://drkennethshore.nprinc.com/for-teachers/decreasing-students-calling-behaviors/.
Stacy Tornio on November 16, 2018.contest-social .share-links svg. (2018, November 16). Tried-and-true teacher secrets to stop students from blurting out. WeAreTeachers. Retrieved November 28, 2021, from https://www.weareteachers.com/stop-blurting-out/.
Teachersbrain. (2021, September 3). Blurt beans: Classroom management strategies. Teacher's Brain Blog. Retrieved November 28, 2021, from https://www.teachersbrain.com/blurt-beans-classroom-management-strategies/.
The Effectiveness of Engagement Activities
Catherine Wu, Intern, Baylor University
Ailsha Devlin, BS Ed, Mentor Teacher, Spring Valley Elementary, Midway ISD
Melissa Cates, MS Ed, Intern Supervisor, Baylor University
Student engagement is a key element in creating a positive classroom environment which can also lead to meaningful learning experiences for all students. Student engagement refers to the degree of attention, curiosity, interest, or optimism that students show when they are learning or being taught. Children who are engaged throughout instruction have been shown to initiate action when given the opportunity and exert intense effort and concentration in the implementation of learning tasks while showing generally positive emotions including enthusiasm, optimism, curiosity, and interest (Skinner, E. A., & Belmont, M. J., 1993). In contrast, students who are disengaged have decreased attention and focus which can result in a lack of motivation throughout their learning experience. Disengagement can affect students’ motivation and relates to lower cognitive performance, increase in disruptive behaviors, and lower achievement scores (de Bruin, A. & Van Gog, T. 2012). Prior to the intervention, I collected baseline data to record how students’ engagement levels and other behaviors were without brain breaks or activities. Student engagement is measured in a variety of ways including checklists or rating scales completed by teachers, observers, or even students themselves. These reports often ask students to report on factors such as their attention versus distractions during class, the mental effort they expended on these tasks and task persistence (Chapman, E., 2003). Increasing student engagement helps promotes students to increase their attention and focus, motivate higher-level critical thinking skills, and promote meaningful learning experiences throughout their own learning. As lack of student engagement has been an ongoing concern in my classroom, I wanted to understand the results and impact that engagement activities such as brain breaks or games had. Specifically, during independent stations or small group instruction, my students struggle with following directions, staying on task, and finishing the assigned activities. Likewise, lack of student motivation has also been a concern in the classroom especially during independent work time, as students are not engaged in the material, they tend to not have the motivation to complete the activities. Student engagement is a key element of a positive classroom environment which can help promote meaningful learning experiences for all students.
How can the integration of engagement activities and opportunities throughout instruction affect student engagement?
Before beginning my intervention, I collected baseline data using engagement charts and took anecdotal notes regarding my students’ engagement and behavior. I quickly noticed students’ disengagement led to off task behaviors throughout instruction. These behaviors include students distracted by playing with clothes/shoes, talking to peers, having difficulty sitting down still in their listening and learning positions and more. Likewise, certain times of the day would decrease student engagement such as transitions, after specials or before lunch, or before an activity. I also recorded an engagement chart which indicated that in a ten-minute sample of 6 students had an overall disengagement of 40%. To promote student engagement in my class, I began to incorporate meaningful brain break activities throughout instruction to guide my students’ engagement levels. My students are second graders ranging from the age of seven to eight including 13 males and 8 girls, making up a total of 21 students. Many students were familiar with GoNoodle videos for brain breaks so I decided to start with reintroducing these during breaks or transitions as students had experience with these types of activities previously. To further engage my students, I allowed them to choose the video and I would go through these every day to ensure each student was getting their choice. Students really enjoyed being able to move around and participate in the activity as a class. I was initially surprised with how excited and engaged students were to participate in a brain break and how easily it became a part of our class routine. I then began to introduce class games to students that I created such as, “Would You Rather?” or “Four Corners.” These games were very exciting for students and a great way to engage students and get them moving. I noted that all students were very excited and engaged when playing the game and were able to talk to their friends and move around. As students tend to have a hard time staying on task before stations or sitting on their sit spots, I made sure to implement these brain break interventions prior to these times for the most effective outcome. Students began to look forward for their brain break activities which also helped their motivation as they knew if they stayed on task and finished their work, we would be able to do a class brain break such as a GoNoodle or game.
After collecting my data, I noticed there was evidence to support that engagement activities in my classroom truly helped increase student engagement. Student engagement increased after a given brain break as seen in my engagement charts and notes. Likewise, I believe that my students’ motivation increased as well as they were very excited and engaged before every brain break and worked hard to stay on task in order to get to our activity. If I were to implement this intervention again, I would have planned more diverse activities for my students. As students are familiar with the GoNoodle type of videos, I used a lot of these type of brain break videos during my intervention. While students enjoyed these, I did notice a change in excitement when introducing a new activity such as our “Would You Rather?” game. I think that providing a variety of activities and games might have engaged students even more and provided them with different opportunities to engage in. Similarly, I noticed how engaged students were when they were given a choice such as choosing the GoNoodle video or game. I began to keep an active record of every students’ choices and made sure that I was able to get to every students choice throughout the weeks. Likewise, I would have introduced the brain breaks better as I did not specifically explain to students when we would do these activities which confused some of them. Throughout the intervention, I explained to students that we use these brain break times to move around and transition to our next activity or plan for the day. This helped students get into the routine of having these activities and helped increase their own motivation throughout instruction as well.
Skinner, E. A., & Belmont, M. J. (1993). Motivation in the classroom: Reciprocal effects of teacher behavior and student engagement across the school year. Journal of Educational Psychology, https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-06220.127.116.111
Chapman, E. (2003, August 31). Assessing student engagement rates. Eric Digest. ERIC. Retrieved December 14, 2021, https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED482269
De Bruin, A. B. H., & van Gog, T. (2012). Improving self-monitoring and self-regulation: From cognitive Psychology to the classroom. Learning and Instruction, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.learninstruc.2012.01.003