Sometimes Big is Better!

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

Living a belief that I share with all of the students I teach – “the more we read, the better we write” – I spent some quality time this past week in the library at the school where I was teaching. Renee Bailey, Media Specialist, turns this instructional space into an attention-getting movie theater with all kinds of added benefits for her students.

Ms. Bailey has discovered that her use of a document camera that projects images on a Smart Board works magic in maintaining focus at story book time for children in grades K – 2. Sometimes big is better to keep kids engaged!

Ms. Bailey sets up the document camera and Smart Board for story time.

As Ms. Bailey was preparing the document camera for a Kindergarten class, she told me that she’d noticed that during library visits, the younger children were becoming more and more distracted. “I used to read a story with the kids seated in a library circle on the floor in front of me,” Ms. Bailey recalled, “but we kept having interruptions.” “I can’t see the pictures,” the children would call out, elbowing each other for a better view of the book in Ms. Bailey’s hand. “Then,” continued Ms. Bailey, “we needed to transition to the Smart Board for the lesson and that made for more distractions and lost time.”

So….Ms. Bailey said to herself, “Why not use the document camera in conjunction with the Smart Board!” It’s been available in the library for over a year but it wasn’t until this school year that necessity seemed to call for her implementation of this relatively new technology. Document cameras are an improvement on overhead projectors because any document can be projected as an original source – no need to create or transfer information for projection.

How well does the document camera work for Ms. Bailey? “It’s been a big solution to our distraction problem,” she reports, “because the enlarged printed images are easy for the children to see from wherever they’re sitting.” Ms. Bailey also likes the way the projected images allow students to follow along in a story like “What the Ladybug Heard” by Julia Donaldson (Henry Holt & Company, 2009), that the children are viewing in my blog pic below. As you can see, the Kindergarteners were eager to answer questions that Ms. Bailey posed about animals they would find on a farm.

“Hands up for who knows what animals live on a farm!”

Ms. Bailey’s Pre-K – 5 school has a significant population of ELL (English Language Learners), students for whom a language other than English is their “first” language. “As a school,” says Ms. Bailey, “we’re focusing a lot on literacy this year, trying to increase our EOG (end-of-grade test) reading scores.” “The document camera enhances literacy,” Ms. Bailey observes, “because when the story is projected on the Smart Board

The document camera projects big bright color images.

the students aren’t only hearing the story as I read it aloud, they’re seeing the words I read.”

Large and in charge, the document camera and Smart Board play into twenty-first century students’ familiarity with technology-based media. “Images on screens and bright colors are natural to today’s children,” Ms. Bailey knows.

Successful teachers in 2012 seem to cook up their own blend of technology-based attention-getting tools and tricks mixed with traditional methods of classroom management. When the Kindergarten children came into Ms. Bailey’s Media Center Ms. Bailey instructed them to “find your letter.” That meant locating their assigned small alphabet rugs for seating. “Criss-cross, applesauce,” said Ms. Bailey next, reminding the children to cross their legs when seated. Then she said, “Voices off, I’m getting ready to give you directions,” as she turned on the document camera.

A final attention-ology trick from this resourceful librarian…Ms. Bailey encouraged the children who correctly answered her story book-related questions to “kiss your brain!” Without hesitation, they blew kisses into their hands and touched the tops of their heads!

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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