Although the intended focus of my observation was math, I invariably picked up a few other tricks, as well. With his permission, I share them here with you:
1. Magic Word of the Day
Each day, a special word is selected (today's word, btw, was "parallel"). This word is used to help students with transitions. For example, "When I say the magic word of the day, please turn to a partner and describe to them one of the polygons you see on the board. Use the mathematical vocabulary we collected during yesterday's lesson. Questions? .... Parallel."
For a number of years, I have used "Give me 5" in my classroom as a visual signal to get students' attention. I raise my hand, and say, "give me 5". Students have been trained since Sept that they need to do 5 things:
- eyes on me
- hands free
- ears open
- mouth closed
My colleague uses a slightly modified version of this: When his students are talking about something, and he wants them to finish up and return their attention to the lesson, he counts quietly and calmly backwards from 5... 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1. By the time he gets to "1", the students are quiet, and listening for the next instruction.