Thursday, September 20, 2012

mystery walker

This week I found an idea on Pinterest that pretty much worked a miracle with my first graders. No joke, I wish I knew who first invented this idea because I would make them cookies or something... it helped so much!

My class has a lot of energy. They're six. Talking and being silly is kind of their thing. Unfortunately, this does not lend itself well to walking down the hall in any sort of orderly fashion and it causes teachers to close their door when we walk by. I also have one or two students with tons and tons of personality that tends to come out in the form of talking to anyone they see, walking/running/jumping/dancing any time they can, and touching everything within arm's reach.

So, when I stumbled across the mystery reader idea, I was a tad skeptical. It just seemed too simple.

What the plan entails:
- cut cardstock into small squares and write the students' names one per square.
- place the squares in a bowl/bag/container near the door (or carpet area if you have one)
- tell the students before lining up what the expectations are for walking in the hall. (I told my students to do three things: hands to themselves, mouth silent, feet walking like a 1st grader).
- make a big show of choosing a name from the container, but don't show it to anyone. Glance at the name and then put the paper in your pocket.
-tell the kids that the name on the square is your mystery walker and if they can walk to wherever you're going with perfect hallway manners, they get a reward (we used the current stickers system in place in the classroom).

The genius of this method is that first graders are still self centered enough that they are all convinced they are the mystery walker. Even better than that? They all are highly motivated by stickers.

I did this with my class today and it was like I had a different class. They were silent walking down the hall and received lots of compliments. We did this twice today (once for lunch/recess and once for specials) and both times I was able to reward my mystery walker.

The final thing to keep in mind with this mystery walker business is that you don't tell the kids who the walker is unless that person is getting a reward. If the mystery walker failed in their efforts, then simply tell the students that the walker did not meet the expectation and will be placed back in the container to try again another day.

I made a point to go over the expectations a few times before leaving the classroom just so everyone was clear. I'm so thrilled that this method worked today! Hopefully my cooperating teacher is able to keep up with it while I am gone and the kids will continue to enjoy it!

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