Student Obligations:

  1. You are obligated to speak loudly enough for others to hear.

  2. You are obligated to listen for understanding.

  3. You are obligated to agree or disagree (and explain why) in response to other people’s ideas.

Once the rules have been discussed, Ms. Carter consistently reminds her students of them, pointing out any infractions. Ms. Carter uses a color-coded discipline system in conjunction with these rights and obligations. Each student starts the day on green. A warning is given for misbehavior, and a further infraction results in a change to yellow. After one more warning, another infraction puts a student on red and the parent is called after school. If there is a serious infraction, she stops the class and has everyone turn to their Green Sheets to find the right or obligation that relates to that particular infraction. She then discusses that right or obligation at length with her students. Disrespectful comments get a warning. Repeat offenses get the offender a color change. Over a period of weeks, the rules become thoroughly internalized by her students and Ms. Carter rarely needs to refer to the Green Sheet. It remains a resource, however, available for review if discussions get off track.

Students know that she will keep enforcing the norms consistently, week in and week out. As a result, Ms. Carter’s class is known for its good behavior. In

addition, her students appear to be willing to ask questions, put forward their ideas, and respond fully and respectfully to each other’s questions. These are all signs that Ms. Carter has succeeded in making her classroom a safe place for students to engage in challenging academic thinking, problem posing, theorizing, and problem solving—by making their thinking visible to one another and to themselves.

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