Every year I get that one kiddo. The sweet as pie child that just can’t contain his excitement when they know the answer to a question I’ve posed…especially when the answer is not quite correct and ends up misleading her classmates. He blurts out his answer the instant the question has been completed, and he struggles when you ask him to wait his turn. This makes it challenging to give other students the wait-time necessary to be successful. However, over time I’ve built a repertoire of interventions and strategies that have been helpful for helping students who blurt. But how can you handle it and does it need to be documented for RTI?
3 Low-Prep Blurting Interventions
Gradual Release Self-Monitoring Strategy:
For this intervention, the student gets a laminated index card and a white board marker on their desk. The goal is that they will make a tally on their card each time they blurt.The goal is to gradually decrease the number of times a student blurts by building their self-awareness of the issue. Initially, this may mean you have a signal to help the student notice when they’ve blurted and need to make a tally. Gradually, you will release this responsibility to the student when you notice they are beginning to self-monitor. This may take several weeks…remember this bad habit has been practiced for longer than that and will take awhile to break.
How to implement the intervention:
Before you begin, track how many times the student blurts over a day for 1-2 days before starting. This will give you baseline data to track if he is improving. Have a one-on-one conversation with the child and explain you’ve noticed that he often calls out, or blurts, answers in class. Tell him that you love that he is so excited to learn, but it is important to take a moment and give other kids a chance to think about the answer too.
Introduce the index card and marker, and explain that he will be making a tally on the chart every time he blurts so he can start to notice how often it is happening. Explain that this is self-monitoring, and it is a really important skill to have as a learner because it helps us think about our thinking.
Explain that you will check in with him after a set period of time (see below for more ideas on how to set this time). He will count his tally marks, and the two of you will take a quick opportunity to talk about whether the number is increasing or decreasing.
Depending on the severity of the problem, you will check in with the student to count their tally marks after a selected period of time. For your students with a more severe case of the blurts, you will want to check and count the tally marks after each hour. For students with less significant blurting issues, morning and afternoon or the end of the day may work.
Sometimes your students who blurt do this because they are afraid of forgetting that great idea they have. Blurting is incredibly functional in this situation because it allows the child to get the idea out before it is gone. However, you can fix this – this simple intervention that only needs a small pad of post-it notes.
How to implement the intervention:
Before you begin, track how many times the student blurts over a day for 1-2 days before starting. This will give you baseline data to track if he is improving. Have a one-on-one conversation with the child and explain that you’ve noticed she yells out her answers. Ask her if she has noticed this…and if so, why she thinks it might be happening. Explain that you know she has all sorts of great ideas in her head and you love when she contributes to the conversation, but sometimes when she blurts it can make it hard for her classmates to learn. This recognizes the positive aspects and encourages her to participate in the intervention without making it seem like a punishment.
Introduce the post-it pad (and if you have several options, letting the student have a choice in their color or shape is always a great way to build buy-in). Explain to the student that when they want to share their answer, they can write it on a post-it, fold it, and place it on the edge of their desk. You will come by, read the post-it and do an individual check-in while the other students are experiencing wait-time. Over time your goal (as the teacher) will be to check in less often…waiting until the student has 2-3 post-it notes before they check in. You will let the student know that if they raise their hand quietly, you will still call on them to share with the class. (Do this a lot at first to reinforce a quietly raised hand…and gradually pull it away as the child builds self-control.)
This is one of those interventions that is my go-to choice when I have student who blurts but has the ability to control it. They may share irrelevant things or not think before they speak, but they are aware of the situation. It is super easy, requires very little resources. Plus it is easy for me to track data. That is always an added bonus.
How to implement the intervention:
Before you begin, track how many times the student blurts over a day for 1-2 days before starting. This will give you baseline data to track if he is improving. For this intervention all you need is three of something (tickets, math cubes, coins, etc.). Explain to the student you are excited that they want to share, but sometimes it can make it hard for others. Show them the three items, and explain every time they want to share first they can trade an item for that opportunity. If they blurt, you will take one the same as if they asked to share.
As you implement the intervention, be sure to remind the student you are taking one because they blurted or because they volunteered to go first. At the end of each period of time you decided upon, track how many “tokens” the student still has. Over time, you will see a pattern about when the student is more prone to blurting or desiring to participate and share first. You can adjust your pattern of calling on him to better match his patterns. You can also watch to determine if the intervention has been effective in reducing the blurt.
Early on you might need to give them three “tokens” for the morning and reset for the afternoon…or even for the hour, depending on the student and how often they are blurting at the baseline. The great part about this intervention is it pushes your kids who already have self-awareness to really consider and develop thoughtful answers. They think about whether they truly have a quality answer to share or just want a chance to talk.
I am Doing Interventions..but How Do I Document?
Documenting can be pretty easy with all three strategies. Use a post-it note, calendar, or even a piece of paper to create a tally chart of how many times the student blurted during the different sections of the day. This is super easy for the self-monitoring strategy because students track the data for you…all you have to do is write it down. Similarly, you can track the number of ‘tokens’ you have to take throughout the day.
The Stop-and-Jot is the most difficult of the interventions to monitor because it will require more of your time. However, putting a set of paperclips in your left pocket and moving one to the right each time the student blurts or doing the same thing with rubber bands can make it much easier to track without interrupting your lessons. This way you can count how many paperclips or rubber bands are on the right at the end of the time period and record it.
Don’t give up on a blurting intervention too soon.
It can be challenging to feel like collecting data is a fluid part of your process. However, it is an important part of the process. It will let you know if there is a specific time of day the problem occurs more. It will also let you monitor if the issue is improving. This data will be critical if you feel this behavior is impeding academic progress for the student. You can also take it with you to an SST meeting if you end up needing to take the child further in the RTI process.
What do you do for your students who blurt?
I hope this article gave you some ideas for meaningful interventions for addressing blurting and calling out. If you’d like more ideas from The Third Wheel, be sure to follow me on Teachers Pay Teachers, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram to keep up to date and on the latest tips, tools, and freebies for your classroom.