It’s Attention Time!

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

I’m always struck by how much attention ordinary objects can bring to me as a teacher when I present them in extraordinary ways. For example, I was teaching an art class recently with the theme of time – time pieces like a watch or a clock, time of day, time of year, special events, a moment in time.

After I welcomed everyone to class, I announced that my attention tool for the day would be my kitchen tomato timer. I held up the red, round, well-worn device, twisted it to begin the timer ticking and then moved it back to zero so that it would ring. My class laughed, mostly I think, at the fact that my kitchen timer looks like a tomato. But I noticed that they were looking at me intently when I made the timer ring.

The sound was short-lived but the effect lasted through the class. Each time I wanted to catch and keep the participants’ attention, I held up the tomato timer and made it ring, being careful not to overuse the tool and take too much time away from class time for individual art work.

It occurred to me when I announced my attention tool for the day to this art class that I have developed a reputation as a teacher who keeps attention tools and tricks handy. In fact, one of my art colleagues asked me before another recent class what “clever” – her word – approach I would be using to help students focus on my presentation that day. I replied and encouraged her to read my attention-ology blog!

Simple approaches, like using a funny kitchen timer, to bringing any group together offer teachers the big benefits of being quick, inexpensive and easy to implement. Of course the tools and tricks we use need to be classroom-tested for effectiveness.

Standing in front of K – 5 students and using the expression, “Okay everyone, it’s Attention Time!” is a good example of a simple effective approach. School days are full of time segments – morning work, math time, reading time, lunch time, recess, etc. Children enjoy word play, including plays on words, so you might want to tell your class something like, “before we get to lunch time, we’ve got to get to attention time, so that science time will be a good learning time!”

It’s about time for more good ideas on how to catch and keep K – 5 students’ attention. Please share your ideas in comments on my blog!

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

Talk with you next week,

Barbara The Lovable Poet


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