Saturday, March 1, 2008

Classroom Management Strategy- Rock Paper Scissors

One teacher I met in Indianapolis told me one of her best techniques for keeping minor classroom conflict to a minimum. When students have a disagreement over who gets to be the "recorder" in a group, or who gets to use the blue scissors, they play a game of "Rock Paper Scissors" (or "Paper Rock Scissors," depending on who you ask).

Rock Paper Scissors, for anyone who's never played, is a simple game with simple rules.

Each player starts with a closed fist. At the same time, they form their hand into either a rock (a closed fist), paper (an open, flat hand), or scissors (the middle and first fingers extended and all other fingers in a closed fist).

If the two players put out the same weapon, they must play again. If not, the winner is determined as follows:

-Rock beats scissors (it smashes them)
-Scissors beat paper (they cut it)
-Paper beats rock (it covers it)

Every tool can win, and every tool can lose, equally. The game generally takes a few seconds to find a winner.

I love the idea of using this as a classroom management strategy. First of all, it frees the teacher from having to waste time intervening in trivial student arguments. Secondly, the students don't waste time arguing when they should be working on something (as often happens in group or partner work). Finally, the students are given responsibility to manage their own problems.

The teacher, of course, encouraged students to seek her out in the case of a serious issue... but she definitely found this strategy to be valuable. If you have a class that doesn't seem to have a lot of bickering going on, this might not be so beneficial- but for certain classes, Rock Paper Scissors could work wonders!

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