Recently, I posted a few pictures on Instagram of some of the friendly post- it note comments I received from observers in my classroom. This post led to a request for me to explain how I use the lights as signals during my lessons.
Classroom management during bell ringers, individual work time, class discussions, group work, partner work, and more is a piece of cake with the use of a consistent type of signal for students to indicate that they are in need of something. I have seen red solo cups, popsicle sticks with various colors, pieces of paper to be flipped over for different colors, and the use of hand signals used for this purpose; however, I found them to be troublesome. For example: memorizing hand signals can be difficult for some students and they are still in need of holding their arm up for a time period, popsicle sticks become lost or the colors bleed onto your fingers, papers are knocked down on the floor/ misplaced/ torn, and solo cups can be used to pretend to drink or as musical instruments. These are a few of the things I have observed over the years and wanted to avoid such conundrums in my classroom. This is why I purchased a class set of tap lights to stick to my students lab tables.
Each light can shine four colors: white, red, green, and blue by pressing the light.
No need for students to raise their hands for a long period of time which allows them to continue working while waiting (if they are able), nothing to be lost, thrown on the floor, or torn. They can be played with; however, they will need to stand at the back of the room for the rest of the period with a clipboard if they choose to do so. I do not remove the lights from the tables, I remove the student from the light (they never play with it more than once).
Most days the lights are used during bell ringer time and individual/ partner work time. I have the following projected at the front of the room during these times to help students meet expectations. Green light, I am finished and ready to move on to the next thing; Red light, I have a question; Blue light, I need to borrow a pencil; and white light, I need to use the restroom or get a drink of water.
The pressure of having to assist 30+ students is lowered tremendously and I feel less anxiety about getting to everyone. It is manageable to look out across the classroom and see a blue light so that I can sign them up to receive a pencil and then place it on my table for them to pick up or if I see a white light while helping another student and I can tell them it is okay for them to go to the restroom or get a drink if I know no one else is currently out of the room ( I only have one out at a time). I have the opportunity to ask someone with their green light on to assist with a red light or two if it seems to be a difficult topic. I can also move on sooner than the timer if I see that everyone has completed their task with all lights to green!
What type of system do you use in your classroom to manage all of your students needs and wants? Please tell me in the comments below.
Until next time,