We all have our little quirks. I know I do. Most of my students are tactile, kinesthetic, and verbal learners. This is fine since I am well versed in creating lessons for different learning styles. However, there is one feature of most of my 4th graders, and not just my class this year, that is distracting and a nuisance. Many of my students are constantly manipulating items, i.e paper folding, breaking off pencil erasers…just plain fiddling with stuff. The paper folding results in the creation of a “popper”, star, cootie catcher, or any number of “origami.” Last year, I wasted money on nice name tags with helpful content resources that were encased in a sleeve and pasted to their desks. Most students poked holes in the plastic, peeled up the edges…destroyed them. I vowed to never purchase those again. Instead, I write their namez in black sharpie on the desks.
Some of these behaviors in my current class have been reduced after making it clear that paper folding was not allowed unless it was a part of a lesson. I do use foldables a lot so they have the opportunity to fold paper “for a good cause.” We had a cleaning and organizing day during which I set the expectation for the contents in the desk and book box. So things have improved, but the behaviors still remain for some. I have offered stress balls to one student, but he sometimes uses it as a toy.
I fear there is now real cure for this..even the most engaging lesson can’t stave off this behavior for everyone.