Angela's English classes

Exercises, resources, tips, ideas and a dose of fun

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Warning! Yellow light!

During the last two months I worked with a new group of young learners. Quirky as they are, when put together in one classroom their personalities collide and there can be either an outburst or an upbeat class.Experience and knowledge are indeed ingredients that open the way to successful teaching. Moreover, a positive mindset towards our students can let us harmonize the class. Thus having some visual resources at hand let young learners understand and react quickly to classroom needs.

What do you do to calm  your students down? Actually, it was a student that I had some months ago who gave me a simple and brilliant idea: using traffic lights.  He just explained his school teachers used them to let students know when they had to regain their composure. I didn’t try them at that time beacuse the students were able to listen and calm off but I have to admit I  was a little reluctant to use someonelse’s idea.

Two months ago while setting first day rules I just drew traffic lights on one of the top corners of the board and explained  that if they didn’t turn on all the lights they would be able to choose an activity for the last five minutes. Crossing out a light meant turning it on. Luckily I bought red, orange and green markers to draw the lines.


They usually chose a music video on youtube to listen and watch. Sometimes they would even sing out loud. I expected them to choose games but they did so once in a while. If they made an effort to compensate for their noisiness I would erase the lines and let them engage in an extra activity. This works for a class, but not necessarily to have individuals behave better. Be careful not to encourage negativity towards a single student.

I have been using together with charts on the board for this purpose. I have their names on the wall and get points of different color according to their behavior. Green is positive, orange shows they are getting restless and red if they are discourteous. While my charts are very simple. you’ll find Teacher’s pet Wall chart conspicuous.

I have found  other ways to use traffic lights in the classroom. There are many creative and industrious teachers out there!

Classroom Noise Level Indicator – Traffic Light

Traffic lights assessment poster

Traffic lights by Wishing Flowers

Featured image: traffic lights