Friday, June 1, 2007

June 2007: Emily Marcus, “Behavior Basketball” Superstar


America Learns Strategy of the Month

Meet Emily Marcus, an AmeriCorps member with City of Lakes AmeriCorps and the author of the June 2007 America Learns Strategy of the Month!

Emily MarcusEmily joined AmeriCorps after college to explore her interests of education and the nonprofit sector.  She has spent this past year serving as a tutor/mentor and an afterschool leader at Jefferson Elementary. 

She shared that, "I love working with the kids and listening to their stories.  They all have something to say.  I'm honored to be able to have a little part in their lives."  Emily is also thankful for AmeriCorps' existence.  "[It] has provided me with a world of invaluable experience and connections," she told us recently.

And check out what Emily's supervisor, Jennifer Valley, had to say about her: "Although she is known for her great smile and positive attitude, even Emily has had her share of challenging students. This strategy is just one great example of how she has risen to the challenge and engaged her students in learning while keeping her cool. We're very proud of Emily and all she has accomplished this year!"

About the Strategy
Emily shared the following strategy that she's been using to keep her students well behaved while they're waiting in line to do something.  We hope you and any students you work with will benefit from it as well.

The Strategy


Created by: Emily Marcus, City of Lakes AmeriCorps
(America Learns Network member since 2004)
Topics: Behavior
Group Cooperation
Grade Levels: Kindergarten - 4th
Arrangements: Small Group; Large Group

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Situation: My students tend to become antsy and irritating to each other and to the teacher while waiting in line, especially while waiting for a drink or the restroom.  I observed this strategy used by a student teacher where I work.
Step 1: As the students are in line, explain to them that you have something for them in your hand. Begin dribbling an imaginary basketball.  Talk about and show the great "tricks" you can do with it by pretending to twirl it on your finger, to throw it up high in the air and the catch it with your eyes closed, etc.

Dribble it around the group while saying things like, "Watch out, I don't want to get anyone's toes..."  It is important to set up the "greatness" of the ball the first time.

Step 2: Next, tell them you are going to pass the ball, but only to those students who are quiet and listening closely.  After choosing a student to receive the ball, point to them and tell them to put their hands up to catch it.  After "tossing" it to the student, commend them on a nice catch and have them dribble it or do a quick trick before tossing it back to you.
Step 3: Allowing only a few students at a time to play keeps the game new in the students' minds, allows for more transition time, and allows you to use the game later.

Allowing another student to take the lead as the main ball passer, such as on his or her birthday, gives the activity added attraction.


Please share your thoughts about this strategy and any messages you have for Emily by clicking the grey “Comments” link below.