Does anyone have a signal that students utilize to signal the need for teacher assistance? This could be a silent signal, visual, etc.
I love Linda's idea! I have a friend who uses an open/closed folder approach when her students are doing folder work. Open means they need help but they are encouraged to keep working on other material until the teacher gets to them.
This requires a bit more set up, but I know teachers who have velcro tabs on all of their students' desks, for various signs like classroom helper or birthdays, and they keep a "help" sign attached to the wall so students can grab it and any time and attach it to their own desk.
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A co-teacher gives students a red-card/green-card. When a student is working effectively by herself, she leaves the green side up. If she is stuck, she turns it to the red side, sometimes reading a book while she waits. It's a great strategy, because the teacher can see quickly who needs assistance.
Along those same clever lines, one high school teacher I know uses three large plastic cups--red, yellow and green--stacked on each student's work table. It's a little more visible than cards from across the room.
For little ones, I made 2X2 HELP signs attached to popsicle sticks. They keep it in their pencil box.
Elementary teachers can use something like the flag on a mailbox for a student to signal help needed. History teachers can have students create a flag that can be upside down when a student is in "distress" (needs help to continue). Another idea is to use a plastic or styrofoam cup turned upside down. put a slit across the bottom of the cup which can then hold an index card inserted. The teacher can see how things are going in a group based on what color card is showing in the cup.
I think all of these ideas are great. When my students are working, they raise their hand while they're working. This signals that they have a non-urgent need for support, but the expectation is that they work on, focusing on a part of the assignment they do understand.
I've also had kids write their name on the white board to signal they need help during independent practice. Both ideas are pretty basic, but super easy and sustainable!
I teach middle years kids and I utilize the "3 then me" idea, to build independence and critical thinking. If a student is uncertain they should re-read the question and any examples first, then check your notes or text, then ask an elbow buddy, and if you are still stuck after those three things...raise your hand and I will come see you.
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