Coaching group

I have just two gems from our coaching group the other day (in which we started by discussing assessment).

We were trying to figure out how to fairly assess structures in free writes. Victoria said that she’d asked Susie about this issue, and Susie said that if you want to assess something you’ve been practicing in class (third-person singular, use of subjunctive, case endings, etc), just tell the kids you’ll be looking for examples of that in their writing. Tell them about how many times they’ll need to show they can use it correctly to get an A.

Next, Victoria said a class management idea has been floating around the lists that helped her with pagames. When a kid is talk-y, put the class mascot or a stuffed animal on his desk. When another kid is disruptive or off task, move it to that desk. The kid who has the animal at the end of the class is the one who loses five points and can make it up with an essay.

Victoria says this is working like a charm. It’s fun, gets the message across, and there’s only one set of five points to record.

And the plus side is…now students are working that animal into stories!

7 responses to “Coaching group

  1. I love the idea of a visual reminder when someone is disruptive but have a gut feeling that this will not work in the high school setting. Anyone use it in secondary? If not I wonder what I might substitute for the animal that would help them get the idea. I’ve never done the pagame thing.



  2. Victoria is teaching high school–and so am I–I’m going to try it this week. I’ll let you know how it goes. She said that it’s a kinder, gentler way to remind kids about behavior, and that she can present it with a dash of fun.


  3. I tried to try it today in my high school classes. As with all new things, there is a honeymoon period. But today the honeymoon period was crazy. Not a kid spoke out of turn, once I had told them what would happen. In my MS class, one kid got it, and then everyone was unusually perfect the rest of the period.


  4. Thanks for the feedback on how it worked for you Michele! I’m sorry I thought you were teaching MS since I have seen it mentioned. What did you use for the “animal”? I have so many toys but the kids just love to get their hands on them! Mine are not really the soft fuzzy kind. More weird and plastic. I really do have some issues with talking and it is getting me down so I would love to help improve things with this technique.


    • Hi Ruth!

      I grabbed the first animal that came up that wasn’t my favorite. It is a horse whose legs got sewed on sideways, and who happens to balance nicely over my computer. It’s fuzzy, and it spent the hour sitting on the child’s shoulder!

      It could seem like I teach mostly MS…I talk about those kids a lot! But I have actually three groups of high schoolers as well as the group of middle schooler kids. My HS level one is my only “unmixed” group. Even so, of course there are already some kids way ahead in ability.


  5. O.K. so I tried it today but didn’t really carry through. Still I think it got their attention. I grabbed the first thing I saw which was a squishy octopus. It’s a cool toy, fun to hold and squish so they all clamored for it. But I said “if I put this on your desk it means you are disrupting my classroom. You can not touch it and if someone else disrupts the class it will move to their desk. Whoever has this on her desk by the end of class will write a paper. Here’s the glitch for me… how long and what about? Let me know what you are doing for that part. I really do think that it got their attention so as soon as I know what the consequences of having “the octopus” are it will be a lot easier to carry through with it! Here’s hoping it continues to work for all of us!


  6. I have one high schooler and one MS kid lined up to write tonight. We’ll see…I said that the MS kid has to write an essay of 30 words (that’s about what they do in Cyrillic cursive in 10 minutes in class) and that the second-year kid has to write 100 words. I don’t want to make it onerous, but I do want it to have teeth. I used the nice combination of Laurie’s evil smile with an occasional hopeful glance at the deformed horse to control class. I loved watching a high-school boy petting this soft little horse, and looking happy about it even though he now had to write a mini-essay. It softens the blow somehow. I love the idea of a squishy octopus!


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