This month: a simple strategy for dealing with papers without names and a fun way to identify which students have completed an important assignment… and which ones haven't.
by Rick Morris Continued from page 1
April 1, 2008
The Neon Necklace is a quick and easy way to visually identify which students have turned in a special assignment, say, a book report, and who stills needs that extra bit of prompting or intervention.
First, I made a set of necklaces from neon-colored shoe laces I found at the dollar store. I took each lace and tied its ends together. I made about 30 of them and hung them on a hook attached to our whiteboard.
Then, I introduced the new idea to my students.
Making an early morning announcement:
As you know, your book report is due today by 2:00. Please place your report in the folder, and mark off your number on the Check Off List. After you’ve done that, come see me. I’ve got a Neon Necklace for you.
As students turn in their book reports, they come to me for a Neon Necklace. After receiving their necklaces, they put them on. Some kids wear them around their neck, as designed, while others will wear them around their wrists. Either is fine as long as the necklace is visible.
Everyone benefits from the Neon Necklace. For my students, it becomes a badge of honor. (If you’re wearing a necklace it means you’re a member of Club Ed.) The necklace shows that the wearer has completed and handed in his book report. And since most students are status junkies, they work hard to be able to wear one.
The benefit for me is obvious: I no longer have to guess which students aren’t finished yet.
Imagine it’s time for recess.
Slipping a Neon Necklace around my neck and holding it out:
If you’re in the Club, the boat is sailin’.
I then pause as the students who have already turned in their book reports were dismissed to recess. I’d also be beaming at them in recognition of their hard work and effort.
Suggestion: In the interests of physical safety, students are asked to remove their necklaces from around their necks and wrap it around their wrists before they leave for recess.
Turning to the students who are still in their seats:
Please don’t forget: book reports are due by two o’clock today. You know, you might want to work on it during recess, but...
Giving them a knowing grin:
That’s just a suggestion. See you later. Enjoy your recess.
Let’s move the clock forward to 11:30. During the next ten minutes, before my students head to lunch, they are given E.T., or extra time. Their first responsibility is to complete any unfinished assignments. After that, it’s up to them. They can read, draw, use the computers, or play a simple game with a friend.
During E.T. I notice four girls using the computers. Of the four, three are wearing a necklace and one isn’t. Hmmmmmm. Looks like it’s time to intervene.
Approaching the girls:
Ah, I see you’re playing “Where in world is Carmen Sandiego.” Good choice, girls.
I surreptitiously motion Rebecca away from the computer for a private talk.
Rebecca, I see you’re not wearing a necklace. Have you taken it off or is your report not yet finished?
With a somewhat guilty look:
It’s not done, Mr. Morris
Well, let’s go back to your desk and see what you have so far.
At the end of the day, all of the necklaces are collected and hung on the hook until needed again.
Problem: Please be aware that there are now many districts that expressly forbid giving anything to students to be worn around the neck. Although this is merely a reflection of our increasingly litigious society, this mandate would prevent the use of the Neon Necklace strategy. Bummer.
Solution: If that’s the case, you might want to try what I’ve been doing lately. I’ve been using scrunchies. I found them at the dollar store, six for a buck. I bought a class set along with a little plastic tub in which to keep them. The beauty of the scrunchy is that you don’t have to worry about anyone being gagged accidentally but they’re still highly visible on a student’s wrist. You could also use the kind of rubber bracelet popularized by the Lance Armstrong foundation and now being sold by the friendly folks from Character Counts. (charactercounts.org) You can get a pack of 30 for a reasonable price.
Award-winning educator Rick Morris is a recognized specialist in the field of student management, motivation, and engagement and the creator of New Management, a highly acclaimed program that is revolutionizing teaching and learning. Based on his thirty-one years of classroom experience, Rick’s up-beat, on-target workshops have inspired thousands of teachers to incorporate his innovative New Management tools and toys into their classrooms on a daily basis. In the words of David Smollar, staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, “Morris is well known for the energy and creativity he brings to teaching.”
Rick now divides his time between presenting New Management strategies to educators throughout the country and writing about simple, yet effective ways to transform today’s challenging classrooms. In his new monthly column, Rick will be sharing ideas from his book, Tools & Toys: Fifty Fun Ways to Love Your Class. newmanagement.com/books/tt_info.html
Recipient of the Hats Off to Teachers award for: “. . . his teaching excellence and the positive effect he has on students.”
Author of four books: New Management Handbook, Tools & Toys, Class Cards, and Eight Great Ideas.
Awarded the Distinguished Contribution to Education Award from Phi Delta Kappa, the national honor society for education, in recognition of: “…the outstanding work you’ve done with new teacher intern programs.”
For more information about Rick Morris and his easy-to-use ideas for creating a happier, more productive classroom, please visit: newmanagement.com