Hi Kim, a successful transition that I have used with my 7th grade students is through song. For instance, when I want to come back together and share, I sing "Come together, right now, over me," by the Beatles. It's a fun and quirky way to get the students attention!
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Hello! I am only a substitute but there are a few ways to transition from one activity to another that work for me. Just yesterday I was with sixth graders. They had several different activities to get through before class was over so before we started I set some goals for the students. First I told them that after each activity I would give them 2 minutes to clean up their area and get all materials that will be used for the next. This time limit made each kid stay focused and it helped keep everyone on task. I also told them that if these transitions went smoothly, I would allow them to listen to music at the end of class. This really seemed to work!
Use pre-corrects to ensure everyone knows what's coming, and what they should do. For example, "In three minutes, I need you to close your notebook, gather your things, and be ready to move into groups." Give a one minute signal, and then at the transition, state the expectation again, and use positive specific feedback for students who immediately perform the expected behavior. "Now it's time to close your notebook, gather your things, and be ready to move into groups. Awesome job being prepared to move, Sam. Thank you for having your items gathered together, Tia."
You should include the explicit teaching of an attention signal into your initial days of instruction, practice it often, and use it consistently. Some use a song, some use a call and response, like (teacher) "Ready, set....." (Students) "You bet." Or it can simply be "When I raise my hand and say 'Attention here', I want you to raise your hand and focus your eyes on me." Use it every time, give students positive specific and corrective feedback about its use, and you'll have a clear procedure performed reliably all year.
I like to use chants that I teach my students. Content items like countries, states, multiplication, etc. are useful for transitioning
I also love song as a transition cue. Another great one is lights. Turning off one or both lights is a nice signal that one thing is ending and another is beginning.
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