I Spy a Good Listener!

Hi and welcome back to Attention-ology for K – 5 Teachers!

You may have heard the old Chinese proverb that roughly translates in English to, “We hear and we forget; we see and we remember; we do and we understand.” I’m of  a mind that this proverb has merit for teaching, especially if one considers that DOING almost always includes hearing and seeing.

I Spy a Good Listener is an activity you can try in your instructional setting that focuses on sight, but the attention-getting aspect of this trick is all about the ACT of looking to find students who are paying attention to you, the teacher.

If you teach children in grades K – 2 and like this idea, I recommend using a large magnifying glass on a long handle to “ACT-centuate” your “spying.” (Many “dollar stores,” at least in the U.S., sell inexpensive plastic magnifying glasses designed for use with children.)

Here’s how to begin the I Spy trick: Hold up the magnifying glass and in your best detective voice announce, “Boys and girls, I’m looking to spy a good listener.” Move around the classroom as you look into the magnifier and lean toward students who readily respond to you in a positive way.

If you want to take this activity a step further, single out the students who are showing excellent listening skills. For example, you can note to the class that Sean and Maria are paying close attention by following your movement around the classroom. Test students’ listening skills by asking them to repeat a short rhyme, for example, if you’re using this trick as part of a language arts activity.

Let your class know that there will be other opportunties to “play” I Spy a Good Listener! In fact, on another day, you may catch and keep your students’ attention just 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 your students.

One of the reasons this teaching trick has a high success rate is that magnifying glasses are magical to children (as well as to some adults). They are one of the oldest devices used to improve sight. Many historians agree that it was the Romans 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. Modern magnifying glasses are double convex lenses that make objects appear larger than they are. If you’d like to tie this teaching trick to an early years science lesson, you may want to explain to your class that early magnifying glasses led to modern-day microscopes.

For older students, the concept of getting a closer look at something through magnification may lead nicely into an activity that focuses on critical thinking – a much-needed skill for all 21st century students.

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

Talk with you next week,

BarbaraThe Lovable Poet

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