Sometimes students are off-task, and what starts as a friendly reminder to stop talking or get back to work can sometimes become an ugly power struggle. Once I started using off-task cards, my students felt empowered, and I did not have to stop teaching to correct minor offenses.
When a student is off-task, I don’t stop teaching. Instead I put a blue off-task card on their desk. (I recommend printing off-task cards on colored card stock or paper). I spend time explaining to students that off-task cards are just a reminder to get back on track, and it gives them an opportunity, if they choose, to also explain why they were off-task. Sometimes students have legitimate reasons for being off-task: they might be asking for help, or they might be tired because of something going on at home. The off-task card allows them a chance to explain their side of the situation, or help them realize or reflect on the fact that they are off-task without losing face in front of their friends.
This classroom management tool from Emily's Post will provide a coaching tool for dealing with chatting and minor disruptions, while also providing documentation for students who are continuously off task.