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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Classroom Management Tips #11: Merging Hand Signals and Verbal Cueing

Using hand signals to reinforce verbal requests is extremely helpful with children. Since your classroom will be filled with different types of learners, it is important that you tap into the different learning styles when setting expectations, implementing teaching strategies, and setting behavioral procedures. For example, if you have the procedure that your students will become quiet in five seconds, the teacher should make this request both verbally and visually using hand signals. In implementing Five Seconds to Quiet you should display five fingers when you say five, drop a finger when you say four and so on until you get to zero.

Many of the classroom management tips listed on this blog can be used with hand signals for increased results. For example, If you are using Classroom Management Tip #7: Six inch voice you should either display six fingers every time you make the Six inch voice request or hold your hands six inches apart. If you are using Classroom Management Tip #8: Five Seconds to Move you should display one finger when you say one thousand one, 2 fingers when you say one thousand two, and so on. Check out these Classroom Management Tips and incorporate verbal and visual for increased success.

Every time I had an opportunity to merge visual and verbal cueing, I did so in my classroom. If I asked a question of a student, after receiving the answer I would then ask, “How many got that right?” Students were expected to raise their hand if they had thought of the same answer. This technique helps to focus students during questioning. I then would often ask a student who did not raise his hand what about the topic he did not understand. I would also ask students who had raised their hands to repeat correct answers as a means of reinforcement. This helped to keep the students on their toes. You have to keep everyone honest with any gimmick that you use to encourage total participation. Since many of you have Smart Board in your classroom you should consider using clickers with the Smart Boards to answer review questions. If you have Smart Boards in your school it is a pretty good bet that you have at least one set of clickers in the building; if not, you should ask your principal to buy a few sets of clickers to use with the students. Once it is set up all you have to do is pose a question and every student in the class answers using their personal clicker. You get immediate data on what your student do or do not know.

Another way of using hand signals is to come up with a signal to let the students know that it is time to stop whatever they are doing and to look at the teacher. I had a little noise maker that I used but anything will work. Having a signal really beats trying to get the attention of 25 people who are engaged in an activity. I also used a two sided visual to inform the students when it was time to listen and when it was time to ask questions. I had a large one hanging in the front of the room to remind the students whether it was time listen to the teacher or ask questions. See sample of visual below.

In addition, you can develop hand signals to use when using instructional techniques. For example when using think, pair, share as a teaching strategy you should point to your head to start the think portion of the activity, raise two fingers to start the pair portion of the activity, and display open hands palms up to announce the share portion of the activity. I always made up signals to use with both management as well as instructional techniques; I called them procedures, taught the procedures to the students, and then made them standard operating procedures.

Any time you can get a student to perform any task without talking, you have scored a victory. So start thinking about how you can take what you do and come up with ways to cut down on the amount of individual talking by adding procedures that use verbal cueing and hand signals.


Get the Word document for this visual by clicking on the visual and clicking "Actions" then "Download".

To get files related to this article please email me at smmcnamee@comcast.net 

If your computer does not have a program that allows you to click and send email then cut and paste my address into your own email program.

For more Classroom Management Tips go to the Classroom Management Tips Page.

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