July 9, 2013

Teacher Tip Tuesday: Hand Signals to Minimize Distractions

Today's Teacher Tip is a continuation of last week's effort to minimize distractions in the classroom. You already know about my beloved Hall Pass Punch Cards, and today, I'm going to share how my students seek permission to use them!

At my school last year, students were expected to use hand signals (numbers 1-5) to communicate their needs in the classroom. While I love this idea, it can be quite confusing for middle school students when their teachers aren't consistent about what the numbers mean. (You think this would be common sense, but although we were all instructed to use the numbers, there was no consensus on what each number should mean.) I was constantly referring to my poster and correcting students for using the wrong signal.

That didn't save me any time or distractions, did it?

In my mind, it makes SO much more sense to use American Sign Language to communicate these needs. Not only are students able to clearly show me their needs, but they are also learning a life skill. Win-win!

For my classroom purposes, students need the following signals (click on each word to see what I'm using in my classroom):

Bathroom,    Drink,    Locker,    Nurse,    Library/Book

If you click on any of those links, you can see the signs I plan to teach my students. I think they make a lot more sense than using just numbers, and therefore will be easier to remember.

**Side Note: I also use ASL when I'm going over multiple choice answers with my students. "B" and "D" sound an awful lot alike when you're going through a whole list of answers, so this is one of the ways I differentiate for my students. The kids pick it up pretty quickly, and I actually find them signing their answers along with me (and then it can be used during Check for Understanding). :)

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