The Magic Hat – Mid-Week Focus – Creating Special Spots

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 CREATE SPECIAL MULTI-PURPOSE SPOTS AND SPACES IN CLASS!

I read a fascinating article in USA Today last Friday, September 14. The edition devoted a whole section to looking ahead in the next 30 years, not just in the US, but worldwide. Of interest to teachers of elementary school students today? A BIG YES! Our students, ages 5 – 10 in 2012 – 13, will be thirty-somethings and early forty-somethings in thirty years. What will the world be like then?

According to Google VP and professor, Sebastian Thrun, now at Udacity, an education company he founded this past January, education will be “a world where you want learning to be as much fun as it is to play a video game.” (This reported by Mary Beth Marklein)

The word fun got my attention. FUN and FUNctional is what attentionology tools and tricks are all about. So how ’bout it…let’s create new, fun and functional special spots inside our classrooms. Check out the following ideas…

Fall arrangement I made using dollar store flowers and mug

SPECIAL SPOT: TEACHER’S DESK – Clear a spot on your desk. Refuse to let papers stack up in that space.

Place a flower arrangement there, one you receive as a gift or one you make like I did, as shown in my blog pic here.

What’s more fun than flowers for the teacher’s desk! Sorry guys, I know that flowers – silk or real – are a mostly feminine delight. Plants, though, suit anyone and live plants add oxygen to sometimes stuffy classroom air. Opt for what you like; the key is creating a special space for something attractive.

SPECIAL SPOT: BOOKSHELF – In addition to changing up the books that you feature on a classroom bookshelf during a season like fall, catch your students’ attention by asking them to keep eyes open for a relocating scarecrow. Where will the scarecrow (shown in my blog pic below) be now?

Tuck the little scarecrow into a fall or Halloween arrangement using dollar store supplies.

Special spot for the scarecrow – slip the scarecrow into another flower arrangement that you can make for a couple of bucks and place the arrangement on a bookshelf. After a certain time, move the scarecrow to another spot. Fun? You bet. Functional? Yes! How?

1. This trick teaches kids to be observant.

2. Changing the scarecrow’s special spot in class offers adventure in coming to school. Children love adventures, even quick simple ones.

SPECIAL SPOT – CREATE A CHANGING STATION – Educators today are challenged with preparing students for a future (and present) where change is constant. Quick and easy tools and tricks can help kids learn to accept change as part of daily life. Focusing attention on change itself helps children develop early critical thinking skills. Okay, so what’s

Would your class notice a changed flower arrangement?

changed in the fall flower arrangement in my blog pic at left, compared with the flowers in the first blog pic? You guessed it…different flowers, different mug…still “dirt cheap” to make for a teacher’s desk.

Of course you don’t need to fill a changing station in your classroom with flowers; develop the idea around change in any way you choose. 

You might designate one day a week or every two weeks as “Change Up Day.”

Instruct students to be on the lookout for what’s new in the changing station. Here’s an idea…Place a sign directing visitors to the changing station to look under the dictionary (you place) there and take one of what they find. What’s the treasure? Bookmarks! Bookmarks are easy and inexpensive to find, buy, copy, make. You know that kids love them, and they love surprises.

When you offer adventures in school by creating special spots and spaces, you’ll very likely do what Google’s Sebastian Thrun envisions: make learning, or at least parts of learning, as much fun as kids have playing video games. I’d love to know what new special spots you create in your classroom!

Stop by next Wednesday for more Mid-Week Focus. On Monday Attentionology will be back with more magic.

All the best,

Barbara  The Lovable Poet

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