Hi and welcome back to Attention-ology for K – 5 Teachers!
In real estate the buzz word is “location, location, location,” right? When it comes to catching and keeping K – 5 students’ attention, I think the buzz word is “motivation, motivation, motivation!” Not just for the kids, either…as teachers we have to motivate ourselves to persevere in helping our students be as successful as possible in school.
That word – persevere – got me thinking about the connection between developing children’s ability to stay focused in class and the promotion of character traits that are generally considered to be an important foundation for success as adults.
I’ve come up with some tools and tricks that may help you score a double win with your class – get kids to pay attention when they need to, all the while making new connections with key character traits. Here we go…
The kids in my blog pic below
have been invited to do some research for writing a story or poem about famous individuals worldwide that are remembered in some way for their strong character. In the United States, for example, today, January 16, is “Martin Luther King Day;” Dr. King is widely recognized for his courage. The stories will have the same title, but the kids get to choose who they write about and which character trait will be the focus. The title…I Could Learn __________________(fill in the character trait) from _______________ (fill in the famous person).
Before your students begin their research (this activity is recommended for grades 3 – 5) identify the character traits you want to feature. Post them on the board or on an actual poster. Use the visual list to start a discussion about the connection between paying attention when asked to do so and showing good character.
Begin your conversation with this Q…”Isn’t it true that when we make ourselves pay attention in school, we’re showing respect, self-discipline, responsibility, good judgment – four key character traits?”
Optional, perhaps for a later conversation(and later blog): Discuss how important it is to also show perseverance, kindness, courage and integrity. These four character traits lend themselves to a discussion that relates to paying attention to (and by) children with special needs, including the prevention of bullying in school and the inclusion of students with attention-deficit disorders.
MAKE a CHARACTER TRAIT BULLETIN BOARD – Instead of simply posting a list of character traits for class use, catch more attention by making a bulletin board with suitcase poems about character traits. Easy…find suitcase shapes at a teacher supply store or make and cut out your own. Copy my poems (see below), cut them into rectangles that fit inside the suitcases – one poem to one suitcase – glue on the poems and post the suitcases on a bulletin board. Make a heading that reads…Life is a journey, not a destination. Pack wisely! After your students complete their own character trait stories or poems, post them on the same bulletin board.
If we learn what we live and
we live with respect,
then respect is a character trait
we can expect to get.
Stepping out of line
or controlling yourself,
which will you choose?
Self-discipline is good to use.
Offering to help out
takes special ability.
When you work hard, keep your promises
you show responsibility.
Knowing when to start and when to stop
puts good judgment to the test.
Thinking before you speak and act
is always best!
Want to catch a little EXTRA attention? Tell your class that when they’ve completed their character trait-related work and the bulletin board is up, you have a surprise traveler for them to meet. Dog-friendly destinations may be the best.
Post your own favorite dog pic on your bulletin board to your students’ delight. Okay, dogs don’t always show self-discipline, but good dogs learn respect and responsibility. They also exhibit perseverance waiting for biscuits to reward their good behavior.
Remember, you don’t need to be a magician to work magic in instructional settings!
Talk with you next week,
Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet