Attentionology Power Play – Launch or Update Your Website – PLUS NEWS

March 22, 2013
Use Attentionology Power Plays to get what you want!

Use Attentionology Power Plays to get what you want!

It’s Barbara here, The Lovable Poet, a “wordsmith” ready to help you…

What’s your goal?

Trying to “sell” kids on staying focused and on task in class?

Working to advance your career?

Strategizing to boost sales of a product or service in a field other than education?

Whatever you’re aiming to achieve, you need to catch and keep people’s attention! In a world full of distractions you need the benefit of extra tools and tricks to get and stay noticed.

Put today’s Attentionology Power Play to work for you…

…LAUNCH OR UPDATE YOUR WEBSITE

It’s no secret that more and more communication is via electronic options.

Websites have become standard to most organizations in every corner of the world with access to “technological highways.”

Information seekers and senders, shoppers and storekeepers of every description post and pull data from websites.

Do you manage or contribute to a website? If so, visual and verbal updates are proven attention-grabbers. Websites are important to your “brand.”

In School? In an Office? Look at your website, pretending that you’ve NEVER seen it before. What catches your eye and why? Is the information current, useful, inviting, easy to navigate? Does it need a “makeover?” 

If you don’t have a website yet, consider launching one to attract your market.

Speaking of launches and updates…BIG NEWS HERE…Attentionology is launching a brand new website on Monday, March 25!

The new and improved attentionology.com promises a more user-friendly Homepage, more content, brighter images, free resources, new options for readers…all with a commitment to serve as a valuable resource as we enter our fourth year online.

We’re looking to catch and keep more readers attention, too, so if you like the site, please comment. Your response matters to us; your suggestions are welcome. Stay tuned for the launch of attentionology.com on Monday (please update your bookmarks!) and follow us on Twitter @attentionology. The new site will also offer new ways to share Attentionology with your associates and friends that can also benefit from all that we offer. Let’s grow together!

Keep my Attentionology Power Plays “in your pocket” every day!

Barbara The Lovable Poet

The Magic Hat – Mid-Week Focus – Conquering Worries

March 20, 2013
What's under the magic hat today? Tricks to help kids conquer worries.

What’s under the magic hat today? Tricks to help kids conquer worries.

Hats off to teachers…it’s time for Mid-Week Focus!

Mid-Week Focus is all about quick and easy ways to approach teaching to keep kids on task in any instructional setting.

Let’s share insight and practical ideas.

Let’s blend fun with function, and LET’S HELP CHILDREN (AND OURSELVES) CONQUER WORRIES!

In the school where I’m teaching this week, I’ve already seen sights that have brought me face to face once again with the reality that many children come to school burdened with all kinds of worries. Have you seen this too?

My experience tells me that kids’ carrying un – or -under-addressed worries in their minds and hearts are less able to stay focused on learning in school.

Enter another Attentionology trick…one specifically designed to catch kids’ attention with helpful steps that they can take to conquer their worries.

Oh yes…and teaching children how to manage worrisome feelings helps teachers as well…helps any adults that care for kids to manage our own worrisome feelings. Trust me; I know; I’m a working mother/teacher.

Remember this…Teaching is a great way to learn!

Let’s call the Attentionology trick “Size It Up!.”

Even proud lions sometimes feel worried.

Even proud lions sometimes feel worried.

If you like it, share it with your class.

Use my writing (see below) with a reminder to your class that even the proudest lion, like the one in my blog pic here, sometimes feels worried. (Post a picture of a lion in your classroom to help kids visualize this concept.)

SIZE IT UP!

Call it a problem; call it a challenge; call it whatever you want; when you have something difficult to deal with, it can seem totally overwhelming!

All kinds of unpleasant images may come to mind. You may picture yourself being eaten by a lion or swallowed down a drain. Maybe you imagine that you’re a mouse cowering at the foot of an elephant or a traveler stooped over with a too-heavy backpack as you gaze up a mountain that appears way to high to climb.

Wait a minute! Maybe if you calm down and size up the problem, you’ll see that after all, it’s one that you can solve! Then you can picture yourself in the winner’s circle!

Let’s get started with the following steps:

Step 1 – Size up the problem.

Okay, what’s the deal? Ask and answer the following questions: Is your problem really as big as if first seemed? Why is it a problem? Is the problem something that you can fix all by yourself or do you need help?

Step 2 – Break up your problem into pieces.

Problems are like puzzles. When your problem seems too big to fix in one fell swoop, break it up into pieces that you can work on one at a time. After you fix all of the pieces, the puzzle will come together.

Step 3 – Set goals.

When you have a problem to deal with, it’s helpful to set goals that you can reach. Depending on the size of the problem, you may need short-term and long-term goals. List some fairly quick steps you can take to get to a goal. Build confidence as your problem shrinks in size.

Step 4 – Reward yourself.

Give yourself a pat on the back each time you take a step toward solving your problem and each time you reach a goal. If adults are helping you deal with your problem, talk with them about other rewards that may spur you toward the finish line. Picture yourself in the winner’s circle!

Step 5 – Drop the negative attitude from the get-go.

A negative attitude blocks solutions. Surround yourself with positive people. Find a can-do attitude and keep it!

There’s an old-timey song about “smilers never losing and frowners never winning.” Life isn’t nearly that simple in today’s world – for children or adults – but positive “vibes” are still a powerful force for conquering worries.

We speed through our days together, don’t you think. The relentless pace and the escalation of change can result in uncertainty and worry that is sometimes left un-articulated in the rush of our lives.

That’s why teachers are well-advised to be on the lookout for worried children in school. Simple steps, like the ones outlined above, can pave the way to conquering focus-blockers, helping kids learn more and feel better about themselves and the world around them.

Talk with you again soon,

Barbara The Lovable Poet

Third Anniversary Wishes

March 18, 2013

Hi and welcome back to Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers!

Attentionology is celebrating its third anniversary this month as an international education and enterprise blog. Thanks for visiting.

I like to think of myself and my Attentionology readers as a “global family” of educators and enterprising women and men in more than 115 countries that recognize the impact of increasing distractions on our lives and the lives of those we’re entrusted to serve.

In preparation for “celebrating” Attentionology’s third anniversary with some BIG news coming soon, I was reading through some answers that I offered in 2010 about the development of this blog – answers to a set of questions that some educators I was working with at the time asked about why I created Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers.

"My wish is that Attentionology serves as a creative and timely resource for you."

“My wish is that Attentionology serves as a creative and timely resource for you.”

I’ve decided to share those Q’s and A’s with you now because they reaffirm the “mission” of Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers to serve as a creative and timely resource for elementary school educators.

That’s my wish, shown in my pic here, as the blog enters its fourth year.

Q to me: What have you noticed about attention spans decreasing in students?

A: Over the ten years that I’ve been teaching in Wake County, NC  schools, the sixteenth largest school system in the US, I’ve personally observed children’s attention spans diminishing more each year. That’s what motivated me to begin writing my blog.

But, I wanted to know what other teachers were thinking and seeing in their classrooms. So I started a survey that I’ve taken into schools where I teach writing skills through poetry and narrative writing.

Teachers and support staff like assistant teachers, media center specialists, and so on, basically have been seeing the same thing…decreasing attention spans. A lot of educators suggest that it’s a combination of factors that are causing this…exposure to constant information, distractions and constant animation on media outlets, including hand-held devices and TV.

A lot of educators agree that kids and adults, as well, expect to be entertained 24/7, and they expect to be served – whatever that means – including in school teaching – instantly!

That makes a teacher’s job tougher than ever…my thinking with the Attentionology tools and tricks that I’ve designed is that you use strategies that are proven attention-getters to get kids’ attention and then get them focused on learning.

I’ve been compelled, really, to create tools and tricks to catch and keep K – 5 kids’ attention because when I’m scheduled to teach for only one week in a school, I’m under pressure to get a lot done in short order. Schools have invited me back from year to year because I help them reach their goals – improved academic and personal success for children –  in a small amount of time. The reason…I use my Attentionology tools and tricks.

Q: What are some of the attention-getting tools and tricks you’ve used?

A: I vary them to suit different grade levels. There’s obviously a big difference between children in early, middle and upper elementary grades. When I write my blog I work to show how different attention-getting strategies can be adapted to different grade levels. I like to offer a lot of variety so that teachers can pick and choose what will work best for them.

Starting in the early grades, one of the most popular tools I’ve created is called “Listen Star.” Listen Star is simple to make or buy. I’ve seen some stars on wands, like you see in my blog pic below,

"Listen Star" has "magical listening abilities."

“Listen Star” has “magical listening abilities.”

in dollar stores and toy departments of “big box” stores. Inexpensive teaching tools are best!

Listen Star is a star shape with a face of some sort on a wand. The one I use has bells that jingle when I make the star “fly across the classroom sky.”

As an attention tool I introduce Listen Star as a “friend” who’s joined me in class. I tell the kids that when they see and hear Listen Star “fly” that’s a signal for them to hush – just for a moment – and listen to me.

Works like magic! I’ve had teachers write me and tell me how well Listen Star has worked for them.

In the middle elementary grades I like to invite kids to “travel through their imaginations.” I use an image of a train.

I ask kids to raise their hands if they’ve ever been on a train. Some do. I tell the class that we’re about to “board a train to travel to the wonderful world of words” when I teach writing. Then we “zoom off” to our private quiet writing zones. This approach also works pretending to travel to a “science station” or a “math market” or whatever suits your curriculum.

For the upper elementary grades, like fifth grade, I’ve had a lot of success with a theatrical technique of acting like I’m on the phone when a student calls out in distress over a homework assignment. “Oh, hold that thought,” I’ll say to the student, “got a call, wait a minute, nope, the complaint line isn’t open!” Enough said.

Q: What are some other tips you have for the beginning of a school term?

A: One of my most popular blog posts is a Cornucopia of Attention-Getters.

When fall is around the corner, teachers can invite students to give thanks for the opportunity to learn by choosing from a cornucopia full of extra credit activity apples in their classrooms. The extra credit option gets kids’ attention (and is suitable for any time of the year with an appropriate symbolic container for apples, such as a basket in the spring.)

This is a tool that teachers can advise their classes to be on the lookout for…creating anticipation is one of the keys to Attentionology.

In a world that puts a premium on entertainment, teachers have to use entertaining tools and tricks to catch and keep K – 5 students’ attention.

Remember, you don’t need to be a magician to work magic in any instructional setting!

Talk with you again soon, and please share comments any time so that we can better serve Attentionology’s “global family” of readers.

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet

Attentionology Power Play – Host Lunch & Listen!

March 15, 2013
Use Attentionology Power Plays to get what you want!

Use Attentionology Power Plays to get what you want!

It’s Barbara here, The Lovable Poet, a “wordsmith” ready to help you…

What’s your goal?

Trying to “sell” kids on staying focused and on task in class?

Working to advance your career?

Strategizing to boost sales of a product or service in a field other than education?

Whatever you’re aiming to achieve, you need to catch and keep people’s attention! In a world full of distractions you need the benefit of extra tools and tricks to get and stay noticed.

Put today’s Attentionology Power Play to work for you…

…HOST LUNCH & LISTEN!

When someone invites you to lunch, do you consider what motivated the invitation?

Kids don’t. Lunch? They’re ready to go!

Adults are more likely to answer, “Yes, even if it’s for something fun like celebrating a birthday. I have to think  for a moment before I answer because I have so many responsibilities; my time is limited; and I need to know what lunch will involve.” 

Imagine your lunch partner’s surprise when you say simply, “I’d like to meet for lunch and spend some time just listening to you.” Imagine that!

Someone wants to really HEAR YOU…how you’re doing; what concerns may be “bugging you; ” ideas you have about how to improve your work to positively impact the outcome you seek.

The act of listening – without interrupting – is a first step in helping anyone. A whole lunch of listening…wow…golden!

In School? You know which kids would benefit from extra one-on-one time. Depending on the grade level and dynamics of your whole class, plan a private Lunch & Listen time in your room or corner of the cafeteria, or a group get-together. The key is your willingness to listen. With children, that may require your encouraging them to speak freely.

In an Office? Email an invitation to Lunch & Listen to an employee that you think could use some extra motivation or needs help or…whatever, depending on your workplace. Offer to have lunch in or out; it’s best if you also offer to pick up the tab!

Speaking of tabs, don’t forget to schedule a Lunch & Listen date for yourself. We can all use a good ear!

Keep my Attentionology Power Plays “in your pocket” every day!

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet

The Magic Hat – Mid-Week Focus – Heartfelt Greetings

March 13, 2013

Hats off to teachers…it’s time for Mid-Week Focus!

Mid-Week Focus is all about quick and easy ways to approach teaching to keep kids on task in any instructional setting.

Let’s share insight and practical ideas. Let’s blend fun with function, and LET’S ENCOURAGE KIDS TO INCLUDE HANDWRITTEN CARDS & LETTERS IN THEIR COMMUNICATIONS. 

A recent news feature about the letters of world-famous figures nudged me to focus this week on the magic of writing and sending greetings to special people in our lives.

Print greetings, handmade, hand-picked, handwritten, stamped and sent by “snail mail” seem to “come from the heart” more than do cards sent electronically, although many online options for creating and emailing cards exist.

KEEP THOSE CARDS A-COMIN’! – Have you noticed like I have that elementary school children love to make cards to send to family members celebrating a birthday or other occasion?

In my writing classes when time permits I often allow kids to draft poems for a special occasion and design a card in which to place the finished poem. You can offer your class this attention-grabbing activity, too.

CELEBRATE ST. PATRICK’S DAY WITH HANDMADE CARDS

Slip some Irish treasures inside handmade St. Patrick's Day cards!

Slip some Irish treasures inside handmade St. Patrick’s Day cards!

Everyone knows that you don’t have to be Irish (I do have a wee bit o’ the Irish in me, though) to participate in the wearin’ o’ the green on March 17!

You and your class still have time to whip up St. Patrick’s Day cards for the kids to take home at the end of the week. Or you may save this plan for next year.

  • Fold white copy paper twice to make small standard-size cards that will fit into inexpensive small white envelopes (available in “big box” and office supply stores).
  • Invite students to design, yes design their cards before making them. NOTE: Making cards is a cool way to introduce basic design to young students. Explain that a designer has to plan the whole work before starting to draw, color, etc. What will be on the card cover, the inside and back? What words will be in the poem and the greeting?
  • Set time for students to draw, color, write their cards.
  • Distribute the envelopes.

Here’s a quick clever trick for the card-making…give students short shamrock bookmarks cut from Paddy’s Day napkins and a few good luck coins, like you see in my blog pic above. Suggest that they slip the little treasures inside their cards. It’s fun to open cards that include treasure!

I’ve observed, and you may have too, that kids get into the art part of card making with ease, but benefit from encouragement to write a well-developed poem and greeting that is appropriate for their grade level.

"I can't wait to make a card with this poem inside it!"

“I can’t wait to make a card with this poem inside it!”

HANDMADE CARDS & LETTERS COME FROM THE HEART

Look at the students writing in my blog pic here; you can feel the emotion that they’re pouring into their work!

Offering opportunities to children to write cards and letters is a great way to:

  1. develop strong student writing skills.
  2. help students learn and master basic letter writing formats.
  3. encourage self-expression, noting that for some it’s easier to share feelings in print than it is out loud.
  4. create a sense of community within your school. For example, you can ask your class to write thank you letters to your custodial staff for their daily service or to your PTA for sponsoring a special program.
A display of letters expressing, "We're lucky all year long!"

A display of letters expressing, “We’re lucky all year long!”

WE’RE LUCKY ALL YEAR LONG!

Here’s another attentionology trick to try…

Invite students to write letters that show appreciation for all that your school offers them.

Young kids may get a kick out of writing their letters to your school mascot or, for St. Patrick’s Day, to a leprechaun!

You may display the class letters on a bulletin board like you see in my blog pic here, featuring letters with leprechaun illustrations.

Older students can accept the challenge of writing their letters to the principal who will cherish them, don’t you think.

Quick and easy magical tricks to help kids learn; that’s what’s in store each week under the magic hat!

What's under the magic hat today?

What’s under the magic hat today?

Talk with you again soon,

BarbaraThe Lovable Poet

A Show of Hands

March 11, 2013

Hi and welcome back to Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers!

In my corner of the world Daylight Savings Time has just begun, marking the near start of spring. I love the resulting longer hours of sun in the afternoon – more time to spend outdoors digging in dirt to plant flowers.

Kids and adults alike “dig” digging in every season, don’t you think? In the spring, we dig to plant vegetables as well as flowers; in the summer heat, there’s digging in sand; in the fall gardeners dig to plant bulbs for the next spring; winter snow makes for digging out, at least for many.

Digging with my hands yesterday got me thinking about the awesome tools that our hands are – all of our hands – adults and children in every nation.

Digging plants seeds and builds foundations, and those thoughts of hands at work made me remember a visit last fall with a special group of first graders.

Their HAND-i-work offers a cool attentionology trick that you can use too…

A Tree of Seasons Bulletin Board is a "show of hands!"

A Trees of Seasons Bulletin Board is a “show of hands!”

MAKE A TREES OF SEASONS  BULLETIN BOARD

Look at the row of beautiful trees in my blog pic here and you’ll see a show of hands.

This is easy-to-make art work, perfect for students in early grades.

  • Start the activity by inviting your class to raise their hands high with their fingers spread wide apart.
  • Ask them to note how their hands look like the branches of a tree.
  • Pass out large sheets of construction paper and instruct the kids to place one hand towards the top of the sheet and trace around their hand with a crayon or marker. NOTE: The teacher whose bulletin board is shown above had the kids dip their hands in poster paint and print the treetops – another option for you.
  • Pass out brown paper and have students cut long tree trunks to glue below the handmade branches.
  • Invite kids to choose which season they want their trees to be in and give them art supplies that they can cut and glue to the branches to suit their chosen seasons.
  • Post the finished Trees of Seasons on a bulletin board with a header.
  • Optional: Use the “visual feast” as a prompt for a writing activity related to trees and/or seasons.

LET’S DIG IN!

"Our hands are amazing tools! Let's make them dig."

“Our hands are amazing tools! Let’s make them dig.”

Look at the teacher in my blog pic here.

She’s engaging the class in an attention-getting  HANDS-on activity that helps kids explore the amazing tools that hands are.

The teacher and students are acting out the process of digging.

This activity is leading into a discussion about the many ways we use our hands.

Think of it! The curriculum connections between hands at work and subjects in elementary education are endless and wonderful.

"Let's sort through these books to find something special for each of you."

“Let’s sort through these books to find something special for each of you.”

STRONG HANDS DO GOOD WORK!

Are there any hands busier than those of a teacher?

Look at the teacher in my blog pic here, helping her students find books in the school library.

Have you and your students ever talked about the power of hands?

Throughout history, strong hands have created communities, cared for people, animals and the land itself, carved spectacular works of art, crafted communication devices…the list goes on and on.

Teachers and parents know, too, that one of the best things that hands can do with arms extended is give hugs. No doubt about it…hugging always catches and keeps attention!

Remember, you don’t need to be a magician to work magic in any instructional setting.

Talk with you again soon,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet

Attentionology Power Play – Use Humor with Goal-Setting

March 9, 2013

It’s Barbara here, The Lovable Poet, a “wordsmith” ready to help you…

Use Attentionology Power Plays to get what you want!

What’s your goal?

Trying to “sell” kids on staying focused and on task in class?

Working to advance your career?

Strategizing to boost sales of a product or service in a field other than education?

Whatever you’re aiming to achieve, you need to catch and keep people’s attention! In a world full of distractions you need the benefit of extra tools and tricks to get and stay noticed.

Put today’s Attentionology Power Play to work for you…

…USE HUMOR WITH GOAL-SETTING

What’s funny about setting goals? Nothing really. Success is usually attributable, at least in part, to setting and prioritizing goals. Why use humor then? Answers:

  1. To lighten up the process so that goal-setting is less intimidating to the people with whom you work.
  2. To engage your group, catching and keeping their attention with a communal positive attitude.

In School? Here’s a funny to share with your class…keep reading…

Announce that you’d like to begin class with a few minutes of goal-setting for the day ahead. “I mean just for today, class,” you say. “Let’s focus on what we can accomplish right now!”

Pass out paper and instruct the students (grades 3 – 5) to write down five goals for today. Hold up a paper; point to it to show that you want the goals numbered with the most important first. Then share the funny…“For example, your number one goal for today might be LET’S ENJOY RECESS!”

Follow up the laughter with a more serious reminder: “Okay, really I need you to include some study goals, too.”

In an Office? At the start of a meeting, suggest a few minutes of open conversation about today’s goals.

Offer to start the process, quickly announcing that your first goal is… “LET’S KEEP THE MEETING SHORT!”

Without missing a beat, say, “I think our second goal should be…NAMING THE WINNER OF THE VACATION-TO-PARADISE CONTEST WE’VE JUST CONCLUDED. IT’S ME!!!! Follow with, “Oh, I’m sorry, didn’t anyone else get the memo about the contest?”

Follow the laughter with a business-tone voice, “Okay, I guess we better get back to work.”

Keep my Attentionology Power Plays “in your pocket” every day!

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet

The Magic Hat – Mid-Week Focus – Coaching Themes for Teachers

March 6, 2013

Hats off to teachers…it’s time for Mid-Week Focus!

Mid-Week Focus is all about quick and easy ways to approach teaching to keep kids on task in any instructional setting.

Let’s share insight and practical ideas. Let’s blend fun with function, and LET’S USE PROVEN COACHING TECHNIQUES TO GET KIDS IN THE GAME OF LEARNING!

In the US, March Madness in basketball’s NCAA is coming soon. Watching how coaches, including “Coach K,” Duke University’s world-famous basketball coach, work with players has gotten me thinking that some of the tools and tricks they use to command attention can work for teachers too. 

SURPRISE PLAYS – Want to catch your students’ attention and make them laugh to start a school day in an upbeat mode?

Try this…Pull out a baseball cap from under your classroom magic hat, shown in

What's under the magic hat today?

What’s under the magic hat today?

my blog pic here.

Slip the cap on your head and call out, “Okay team, let’s get ready to play the game of learning!”

All eyes on you now, continue your coaching theme to lead into a math lesson, for example, with these words…“I’m going to pitch you some math problems (not a baseball) and I need you to be ready to hit the answers out of the park.” (meaning give correct answers)

At this point, you can transition into a more standard teaching mode to complete your math lesson as you need to.

Most kids love sports, as do many adults, including teachers. The variety of sports played around the world offers unlimited possibilities for linking popular sports with coaching themes that teachers can apply to teaching.

WINNING ATTITUDES – Help kids made the connection between the importance of positive attitudes in winning at sports as well as winning in life.

Try this…Ask sports-lovers in your class to raise their hands. When hands fly, invite a few students to name their favorite sports.

Find out if they like to play that sport or watch it as a fan, or both. NOTE: I’ve used this activity to lead into writing time, inviting kids to write stories with sports as the focus.

"Does a good attitude help us win in sports and in life?"

“Does a good attitude help us win in sports and in life?”

Hold up a poster about Attitude, like you see in my blog pic here.

Open up an age-appropriate discussion about what attitude has to do with winning, winning in sports, winning in life.

Discuss what you and your students think is a good attitude. Ask what winning means to them. Offer other examples that connect winning with the importance of working hard, staying focused and on task.

If you introduce this coaching-themed activity at the beginning of a school term, offer this to the class, “Let’s have a winning season!” (meaning a school term with good learning results)

THE LANGUAGES OF SPORTS – Use sports “lingo” to draw kids into lessons and activities. 

Try this…Call your “team” together at the start of a day to review your schedule. Describe each planned activity as a “PLAY OF THE DAY.”

Get students excited about the plans by making sports connections with different subjects. For example, as you point to the time slot for reading, mention how Sam and Julia have improved their reading skills in the last weeks, becoming stronger members of your class’ reading “team.”

Teachers that use coaching themes show students an added level of care. Kids relate. Result: they’re more motivated.

"Just look at that bowling score!" Bragging rights are for teachers, too.

“Just look at that bowling score!” Bragging rights are for teachers, too.

MAKE PERSONAL SPORTS CONNECTIONS – Engage your class by showing them pictures of you playing sports or games that you enjoy.

Post shots on your class website, for example, or bring photos to class, like I’ve done to get kids’ attention with coaching and sports themes.

In my blog pic here, I’m grinning about a high score, showing off for fun after a bowling game.

MODEL AN ACTIVE LIFESTYLE – News about the health risks of inactive adults and children is on the rise. Not surprisingly, the alarm bells are sounding in communities where there’s a concurrent increase in the amount of time that kids spend indoors with electronic devices.

Try this…Surprise your class one day by NOT dropping them off at the

Teachers who occasionally join in gym time model an active lifestyle...and get kids attention!

Teachers who occasionally join in gym time model an active lifestyle…and get kids attention!

gym for P.E. (physical education). Stay for a day and get in the game, following the gym teacher’s lead, like the teacher in my blog pic here.

COACH, TEACH, REACH – Engage reluctant learners by offering sports-related incentives in class.

Try this…Set up a small basketball net in your classroom.

At designated times, reward students for correct answers, effort, attentiveness, showing respect – whatever you choose – by allowing them to take a shot at the net with a small toy basketball, like you see in my blog pic below.

Offer coaching-themed and personal words of encouragement, like “Way to go Alexi!” (wearing a red shirt that day) “The star player on Red Team scores BIG!”

Chances to shoot to win with focused "Hot Shot Kids" make a good reward for K - 5 students.

Chances to shoot to win with focused “Hot Shot Kids” make a good reward for K – 5 students.

Successful coaches command attention by forming strong emotional bonds with their players as they guide them with specific strategies to win games.

Winning teachers can do the same, generating excitement about the learning process to achieve academic goals.

Talk with you again soon,

BarbaraThe Lovable Poet

Make Teaching Magic with Magnifyers

March 4, 2013

Hi and welcome back to Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers!

Are you familiar with the English expression, “Sometimes big things come in little packages?” I’m thinking that may be true for gifts of jewelry, but for teachers giving the gift of a good education, making things bigger is often better.

Magnification helps children and adults see more clearly. Making magic with different kinds of magnifyers is a classroom-tested attention-getting trick for teachers.

In children’s hands magnifyers become instructive devices that are fun to use. Holding a magnifying glass in hand is an active way to look closely at something. Sight is the result, but the ACT of looking helps the learning process.

"Okay great, boys and girls, now we can see the pictures much better!"

“Okay great, boys and girls, now we can see the pictures much better!”

Any teacher that uses a document camera or a computer to project images on a screen or SmartBoard, (like the teacher in my blog pic here) is working with magnification.

Today’s Attentionology post offers a few tricks to try using the magic of magnification.

Play I Spy a Good Listener Hold up a magnifying glass – a large toy one available in many “dollar stores,” (at least in the US) or in toy stores.

In your best “detective voice” announce that you’re looking to spy good listeners.

Move around the classroom as you look into the magnifying glass and lean towards students who readily respond to you in a positive way. Kids will get a “kick” out of your easy “theatrics.”

If you want to take this activity a step further, single out kids that are showing excellent looking and listening skills. For example, you can note to the class the Jorge and Isabel are paying close attention by following you around the room.

Test students’ listening skills further by asking them to repeat a short math equation, if you’re using this trick as part of a math lesson, or to repeat a short rhyme, for example, if the magnification trick is part of a language arts activity.

Let’s Look More Closely at Words The magnifying glass I’m holding in my blog pic here is an antique; it belonged to my great-grandfather.

"Let's look more closely at the words we choose to use."

“Let’s look more closely at the words we choose to use.”

I’ve shown this decorative glass to students as a lead-in to writing time. “Let’s look more closely at the words we choose to use,” I’ll say, explaining that many of the words we use in English and other languages of the world come from an ancient language called Latin.

I’ve found that kids love learning bits and pieces of Latin; word origins fascinate them.

"Who wants to come up with the magnifying glass and focus in on this number?"

“Who wants to come up with the magnifying glass and focus in on this number?”

What Time Is It?Draw young children’s attention to a teaching clock, like the one in my blog pic here, by letting kids take turns “zeroing in” on one number at a time with a magnifying glass.

Tell the class that it’s important to be able to keep track of time, like detectives keep track of leads on a case!

Track Back in TimeInvite students in grades 3 – 5 to use magnifying glasses to study maps of earlier civilizations in Social Studies.

Simply showing your class a magnifying glass sets up a mini-history lesson, an opportunity to track back in time to the origin of magnifying glasses themselves…

Many historians agree that it was the Romans (back to Latin!) who discovered magnifying glass in the first century, A.D. Research suggests that the Romans found that glass that was thicker in the center and thinner around the outer edges magnified an object being observed.

Score a Science Connection Hold up a toy or real magnifying glass and ask your class if they know how it works. Answer: modern magnifying glasses are double convex lenses that make objects appear larger than they are. Explain the difference between convex and concave, showing convex with the magnifying glass.

Tell students that magnifying glasses have been key to scientific and medical discoveries. How? Early magnifying glasses led to modern-day microscopes.

Get to the Heart of ArtSome museum educators use magnifying glasses to help kids understand the concept of studying – not just looking at – paintings and other works of art. Museum visitors are not permitted to actually get too close to pieces on display, but a magnifying glass symbolizes investigation.

In school you can enrich the art curriculum by introducing art prints or

"What do you 'spy' that these Egyptian figures are doing in this painting?"

“What do you ‘spy’ that these Egyptian figures are doing in this painting?”

framed copies of art work, like the Egyptian parchment painting shown in my blog pic here.

Invite students to take on age-appropriate challenges, using a magnifying glass to look for subject, color, placement, lighting, etc. in the work of art.

If you like these teaching tricks, let your students know that you’ll offer more opportunities to use a magnification glass in class.

In fact, eventually you may catch and keep kids’ attention before you begin a lesson simply by holding up your magnifying glass for all to see and repeating your goal of spotting good listeners. The magnifying glass can become an attention-getting signal for students.

Using tools of magnification – cameras, computers, glasses – models curiosity and critical thinking. Getting a closer look aids understanding and mastery of skills.

Remember, you don’t need to be a magician to work magic in any instructional setting!

Talk with you again soon,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet

The Attentionology Traveler – Finding Enterprising Kids

March 1, 2013
a world of ideas at your fingertips!

a world of ideas at your fingertips!

Hi! The Attentionology Traveler’s been on the road again…

found an elementary school that hosts an annual Enterprise Day to help fourth grade students put into practice what they’ve learned in a study unit on basic economics.

In an increasingly complex global economy, many educators support the introduction of economics education as early as in elementary school. Does your school curriculum include economics for upper elementary grades?

Enterprise Day at the school I visited was a behavior-reward celebration – an attention-grabbing one at that!

Visitors to the Sugar and Spice Cafe gobbled up cupcakes and cookies on sale, like the cookies in my blog pic below.

Elementary Economics - "Let's sell cookies and count the profits."

Elementary Economics – “Let’s sell cookies and count the profits.”

The sweets table was managed by a trio of girls dressed in bright red aprons with chefs hats atop their heads.

Smiling sales clerks served hungry customers – all well satisfied.

Organizing teachers reported that the students will be allowed to use their profits from Enterprise Day to win prizes.

When the kids at Enterprise Day where I visited are in the “big leagues,” profits will be the prize – for offering market-driven products and services, cupcakes and cookies included!

Traveling on…

Barbara The Lovable Poet


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