Not only is my signal an organizing strategy for me and my students, it reinforces high-frequency Spanish words (especially juego). Now, it's nothing revolutionary, but it allows me to stay in the target language, even when I'm about to change colors
Step 1: Choose a word of the day, preferably about 5-letters long. The word should reflect something that the students want and have a chance to earn/keep by the end of class, like playing a game, time to work on a homework assignment, choosing their own partners, re-taking an atrocious quiz, computer privileges, or I don't know, candy. Words I've used include juego, tarea, tiempo, socios, prueba, and compus. Hint: though using any word with "pus" in it may not work well with high school boys. (Irregular preterite, amirite?)
Step 2: Write the word on the board in a reserved location with easy visibility and accessibility. I find just walking over to that side of the room serves as a visual reminder now, too!
Step 3: Introduce today's word and what it has to do with what they can expect: "¿Les gustan juegos? Tengo un juego muy divertido para el fin de clase, pero hay que poner atención." This usually happens right after the warm-up for me, or sooner, if we're having trouble getting settled.
Step 4: Introduce the steps to losing letters, then privileges:
- "Atención, por favor"
- "Silencio, por favor"
- Borrar una letra. No letras, no privilegio.