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Transition Technique

Found In: routines & procedures, transitions

I taught 7th grade language arts for 10 years and was surprised at how readily and consistently my students responded to our transition plan. I speak a little Spanish and remembered a song that I learned in high school Spanish class 40+ years ago. I introduced the song to my students, none of whom spoke Spanish, and I translated it.

Every time they had to transition from one activity to another or stop an activity and move back to their seats to prepare to leave, I would signal them (usually with an announcement, sometimes with a timer or bell), and they would listen to the directions. For example: “I will sing three Cielito Lindos and in that time you must put away your materials and be in your seats. Remember, no talking is allowed. You must use signals if you need to communicate. You may sing along, but you may not use your voice for anything else.” Students knew they weren’t supposed to move until I began to sing, and they were amazingly fast and accurate about directions when I used this method. They became adept at signaling to each other when needed. They took great pride in following the directions before I finished the song.

This could work with a poem, a silly saying, a math jingle, a song, or anything repetitious and fun that the students could learn through the frequent repetition and join in if they wanted to. The key is consistency of expectations, novelty, and the opportunity to show off their skill at something they found challenging.


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