By Teachers, For Teachers
As educators, we have all had the students who blurt out every little thing on their mind, along with the know-it-alls that need to answer every question that is asked. With all of these classroom disruptions, how are you ever supposed to get any teaching done? As teachers, we strive to get students to actively participate, but when it crosses the line and interferes with learning, then it becomes an issue to solve.
Resisting the urge to blurt out in class is a social skill that needs to be learned and practiced. To help you gain more instructional time and combat classroom disruptions, use the following strategies to help cure the blurt outs in your classroom.
Read the story “My Mouth is a Volcano” by Julia Cook. This story is about a boy that loves to blurt out everything that comes to his mind. It teaches children amusing techniques about how to express their words at the appropriate time. Basically, it’s a fun and entertaining way to teach students the value of respecting others when they are talking, and to learn to be patient and wait their turn.
Next time one of your students blurts something out without raising their hand, try this: Tell them to blow their answer in their hand and not to say the answer until you say “release.” It’s a great way to let kids process their information as well as teach them patience.
At the beginning of the lesson, give each student two or three tokens. If they would like to make a contribution or ask a question, they must turn in a token. If they blurt something out, they must turn in a token. For the students that contribute greatly or ask good questions, you can give them the token back so they have more opportunities to participate.
Similar to the strategy above, “The 5 Rule” gives students five chances each lesson to ask questions or participate. Give each student five laminated cards numbered 1-5 and place them on a key ring. Each time a student raises his hand, he turns over a card. Once all of his cards are gone, he cannot raise his hand again for that lesson. This helps eliminate all of the silly questions and really makes the students think before just blurting something out.
Teach students a few signs so that when they want to ask a question or comment, all they have to do is raise their hand and sign the first letter of the word and you know what they need. For example, if they need a question or statement repeated they would sign the letter “R” for repeat. If they wanted to ask a question they would sign the letter “Q”, and if they just wanted to comment, they would sign the letter “C.” It’s a simple and fun way for students to participate without blurting out.
All kids love to compete against each other, so why not pin one side of the class against the other? Or make it boys versus girls! As one of the class rules, every student must raise her hand before she is allowed to speak. If one side of the classroom blurts out without raising their hands, the other side (or team) gets a point. A little friendly competition will help eliminate any classroom blurt-outs in no time.
A lot of the time children, who blurt out in class end up asking a question that doesn’t even pertain to what you are teaching. For those students, you can try this: Tell them anytime they feel the urge to blurt out something that doesn’t pertain to what they are learning at the time, write it down on a sticky note. Then, when they get home, it is their job to research it and find out the answer. If they find out the answer then they can bring it in and earn a prize.
How do you stop blurt outs and classroom interruptions in your classroom? Do you have any tips or tricks that work for you? Please share in the comment section below.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who draws on her 15 years of professional experience in the education system. As a trained educational professional, she utilizes her experience to provide content and knowledge to the online community. Janelle holds a master's of science in education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, where she provides educational information and lesson plans for teachers around the globe. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.