What you said
"I got a group to personalise pencils with their names. That way, they have ownership of them. I also tried different coloured pencils for different tables. If any were thrown, or landed on the floor, I knew immediately which table was responsible."
"Our school has a problem with kids throwing stuff, mainly Years 8 and 9 boys. The sad thing is, they break the pencils in half so they get twice as much ammunition."
The expert view
I have a few reservations when you say that you are now "getting somewhere" with this group, but you are doing poster work. If you have won them round by using this technique a lot then, unfortunately, you are pandering to them and not actually winning them round.
To make the best of this situation you need to set up the "poster work" as a proper lesson with aims and objectives. Keep the pace of the lesson high by setting small tasks throughout, such as writing the title, deciding on the layout, drafting your first image. Do this part in pencil.
Stop them after each task and get their feedback. Explain to them why each task is important. They could then use this as a draft ready for the second half of the lesson or maybe even the next lesson. This will ensure that they have something to do, as I suggest they are throwing pencils when they get bored.
If they start to play up when you are going through this process, remind them that this type of lesson is a bit of a treat and if they continue to mess about then they will have to do something else.
Another way to stop crayons being thrown is to limit them to a few (two or three) colours at a time. Leave the worst offenders with one. If they throw that away, there is nothing they can do. Keep an eye on them at all times.
This type of lesson requires you to be in "meerkat mode". Do not sit down. Constantly walk around, keeping all pupils in sight. Try not to bend down to talk to those asking for your help as you will lose sight of potential trouble and your presence will be undermined.
If you want them to produce something visual that displays important information, I suggest using ICT instead. At least this way they can't throw crayons about.
- Chris Wheeler is head of RE and sociology at Helsby High School, Cheshire
- Limit the number of crayons each pupil has.
- Keep up the pace of the lesson to stop them getting bored.
- Make sure pupils know poster lessons are a treat and can be withdrawn if they keep misbehaving.
- Take your eye off the pupils.