Archive for the ‘The Attentionology Traveler’ Category

The Attentionology Traveler – Finding Enterprising Kids

March 1, 2013
a world of ideas at your fingertips!

a world of ideas at your fingertips!

Hi! The Attentionology Traveler’s been on the road again…

found an elementary school that hosts an annual Enterprise Day to help fourth grade students put into practice what they’ve learned in a study unit on basic economics.

In an increasingly complex global economy, many educators support the introduction of economics education as early as in elementary school. Does your school curriculum include economics for upper elementary grades?

Enterprise Day at the school I visited was a behavior-reward celebration – an attention-grabbing one at that!

Visitors to the Sugar and Spice Cafe gobbled up cupcakes and cookies on sale, like the cookies in my blog pic below.

Elementary Economics - "Let's sell cookies and count the profits."

Elementary Economics – “Let’s sell cookies and count the profits.”

The sweets table was managed by a trio of girls dressed in bright red aprons with chefs hats atop their heads.

Smiling sales clerks served hungry customers – all well satisfied.

Organizing teachers reported that the students will be allowed to use their profits from Enterprise Day to win prizes.

When the kids at Enterprise Day where I visited are in the “big leagues,” profits will be the prize – for offering market-driven products and services, cupcakes and cookies included!

Traveling on…

Barbara The Lovable Poet


The Attentionology Traveler – Most Beautiful Place

February 11, 2013

Hi and welcome back to Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers!

a world of ideas at your fingertips!

a world of ideas at your fingertips!

The Attentionology Traveler is packed and ready to go with new trips and teaching tricks to share with you in 2013.

One of my most favorite, classroom-tested, attention-getting activities for inspiring kids to write stories and/or poems is a travel adventure itself…

…I invite students to name and focus their writing on the “most beautiful place in the world!”

It’s “Travel Time.” Kids LOVE this activity! Here’s how it unfolds…

I hold up a small plastic (place mat) world map, like you see in my blog pics above and below. I tell the class – with a big smile on my face – “when the world is only this big, I can carry it with me wherever I go.”  

"We'll visit this country here; is it the most beautiful place?"

“We’ll visit this country here; is it the most beautiful place?”

I ask for a show of hands from students that have “ever traveled somewhere special to you.”

Hands fly; I call on a few students to say where they’ve been.

(It’s interesting to note that in many classes, the teacher whose room I’m visiting has never asked about her/his students’ travel experiences, and she/he seems surprised by the information I uncover about the students with this learning process.)

Engaging students and teachers in my role of The Attentionology Traveler, I mention that sharing travel experiences, like we’re doing together, is a great way to get to know someone of any age.

“Travel Time” also helps kids gain a greater appreciation of our world community.

Depending on your grade level, you can also use “Travel Time” to reinforce learning about spatial concepts. For example, I always ask, “Has anyone in this class ever traveled somewhere way far away?” Of course, distance is relative to kids’ personal experiences, but I can see the “wheels turning” in their minds as they think about the question. “Travel Time” keeps kids focused and on task.

Realizing that  some students, for any number of reasons, haven’t had the opportunity to travel, I always include another spatial concept during “Travel Time” – one that has strong emotional ties, too. Using a strong voice I say these words, “Sometimes the most beautiful place in the world is no further away than our very own space at home.” I continue this possibility, saying, “No matter how big or small that space may be, you might think that it’s the most beautiful place of all!”

Travel Time” doesn’t end with this concept. I often continue  preparing the class for writing time by holding up a poster of a sunset, like you see in my blog pic below.

Where is this most beautiful place?

Where is this most beautiful place?

“Where was this sunset?” I ask the class.

“Was it in Belize?” I might add – offering kids a quick  “taste a country” (and a true or false option for older kids.*)

Teaching Goals:

1) Connect writing with world awareness, geography and science (explaining, for example, that Belize is a beautiful Central American country of 200 islands, bordered on the east by the Barrier Reef in the Caribbean Sea.)

2) Connect with other cultures, giving my classes potential pen pals via e-mail to develop writing and technology skills (explaining, again for example, that Belize is where some children go to La Isla Bonita (Spanish for The Beautiful Island) Elementary School  in San Pedro Town on Ambergris Caye, Belize’s largest island.)

So, when I ask kids where they think the sunset pic was taken, hands fly again and every student offers a different answer.

“Ah ha…that’s it!” I reply, and then I say, “Listen to this…If we all use the same title – The Most Beautiful Place – for our stories or poems, I bet we’ll find that everyone’s writing is different!” 

“Why?” I elaborate on my assertion. “Because, what’s the most beautiful place to you (I point in the direction of one side of the classroom) is different from what’s most beautiful to you.” (I point to the other side of the room).

By now the kids are totally motivated to start their stories or poems! We “travel” into our private quiet writing zones and the pencils begin to fly across papers. It’s very cool to see kids so excited about writing; Travel Time” is the ticket.

Teachers with a curriculum that includes helping students learn to differentiate between fact and opinion can use this writing activity to show opinion. “In my opinion, the most beautiful place in the world is __________________________________ and here’s why __________________________________ ” (defending opinion).

Note: Teachers of K – 2 kids can invite students to draw a picture of, instead of writing about, their most beautiful place and take turns showing it to the class, telling why it’s special.

When my classes and I have some minutes left after writing time I share bits of stories from different parts of the world.

One of my favorites is titled The Most Beautiful Place in the World by the American children’s author, Ann Cameron. (Alfred A. Knopf, New York) I tell the kids that this is a story about a boy named Juan who lives with his grandmother in a mountainous city, San Pablo, in Guatemala.

“Listen for the writing,” I advise, “but listen too for how different Juan’s life may be than your own.” “The following excerpt describes Juan’s home city,” I tell the class, and then I read aloud from Cameron’s book…

The only time people aren’t carrying things is at night, when they go out just to stroll around town and have fun and tell stories and talk to their friends. Everybody walks in the street, more or less straight down the middle, and if a car comes while somebody’s having a good conversation or telling a good story, the car has to wait till the story finishes before people will move out of the way. Stories are important here, cars aren’t.

Traveling is important to every child’s education, through stories like Cameron’s, and through other resources. Thanks to the magic of the Internet, virtual trips around the world can now be at our fingertips.

(*The sunset pic above, by the way, was not taken in Belize, although it might have been, as beautiful as Belize and many other places are; it was taken over the Pacific Ocean in Laguna Beach, California, US. Photo: Don Haudenschild)

The Attentionology Traveler will travel on to share more tools and tricks to catch and keep kids’ attention, helping K – 5 students achieve success.

Talk with you again soon,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet

Spotlight on Learning with The Attentionology Traveler

January 14, 2013

Hi and welcome back to Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers!

Here we go; another school/work week’s begun. Is January flying by for you like it is for me? Just since last Monday, The Attentionology Traveler has

a world of ideas at your fingertips!

a world of ideas at your fingertips!

been trekking again, on the lookout for more ideas to share with educators challenged with catching and keeping kids’ attention.


I was recently digging through some of my mother’s things in a very old dark closet.

I paused to “fetch” a flashlight for much improved vision and another attentionology trick flashed in my mind…

Spotlight on Learning – How cool it would be to bring a flashlight to class and shine the handy tool on students’ excellent work, I thought.

I can picture myself (and maybe you) walking around the room while kids are busy writing or doing math, or completing a spelling test, or…whatever you like.

Suddenly, (at an appropriate time, so as not to hinder rather than help

"Spotlight on good work!"

“Spotlight on good work!”

the learning process) I’d turn on the flashlight and spot it on a student’s paper, like you see in my blog pic here.

Then I’d shout out  “Spotlight on good work! Well done _______________(student’s name here).” 

I’d quickly turn the flashlight, still on, towards the classroom clock and announce, “Spot on the clock, we still have ____ minutes more for this activity. Let’s all get back to work.”

Obviously, a flashlight’s yellowish glow shows up best in the dark, but you can still draw attention to a spot with a flashlight in a room that is fairly well-lit. Try it!


Let’s keep the spotlight on learning with my second discovery, the poster you see in my blog pic below that I found on a wall of a fourth grade classroom.

A poster with smart advice discovered by The Attentionology Traveler

A poster with smart advice discovered by The Attentionology Traveler

Learn To Think…Think To Learn.

Help students internalize the importance of this process by making personal posters with the same advice to hang up at home.

Invite kids to add more color to the poster with print and/or images that connect to the message.

Suggest that students post this learning prompt on a wall near where they do homework.

Home and school…how can teachers make stronger connections between the two, benefiting everyone in a school community? Read on…


I reread the pledge (see below) this past week when I revisited the fifth grade teacher’s class where I first found it.

Strengthen your connection between your school and students’ homes by sending home copies of this pledge or one you use. Send along a note to parents showing your appreciation of their child’s pledge and a request that they contact you to confirm that they’ve read the pledge (and hopefully discussed it with their child.)

I first published the pledge, Students’ Pledge – Help Me! in my Attentionology post of 08/29/12. I’ve revised the title in today’s post. (Note that the first line of the pledge features curiosity, the focus of last Wednesday’s Attentionology The Magic Hat post.)


Help me to be curious about the world around me.

Help me to be prepared for the challenges I face today.

Help me to be open to difficult tasks.

Help me to be determined to complete my work.

Help me to be responsible in all I do.

Help me to accept people’s differences.

Help me to be kind in my thoughts and words.

Help me to be aware of my talents.

Help me to be myself and be the best that I can be!

The 08/29/12 post includes a suggestion to design a bulletin board with the Students’ Pledge at the center. Got some new tricks for you today…

…Help students live into the promise of the pledge.

Wow, think about the power of that challenge…it means that we as teachers are asking students to not just write a pledge or say it aloud, we want them to fulfill it, to live it!

I’m reminded of the connection between this challenge and the English expression, “Actions speak louder than words.” Ever use a similar sentence with your kids? I have, as a teacher and a parent.

Helping students live into the nine lines of the pledge above, all of which require staying focused and on task, obviously takes way more time than simply posting the pledge on a bulletin board, as valuable as that can be. What to do? Structure your plan to suit your curriculum over a set time period. Follow this basic outline:

  1. Introduce the Students’ Pledge and post it in your classroom.
  2. Ask students to make the pledge aloud and/or sign the posted pledge.
  3. Identify, with your class’ input, the skills that are required to fulfill each “line item” of the pledge.
  4. Take nothing for granted. Facilitate class discussions about what it takes to be curious; be prepared for challenges; be open to difficult tasks; complete work; be responsible; accept people’s differences; be kind; be aware of personal talents; be the best possible.
  5. Help students personalize the pledge by building the skills, including computer literacy, that relate to their interests and goals to live into the promises they’ve made.


What does it take to build skills to live into a students' pledge?

What does it take to build skills to live into a students’ pledge?

When your students have access to supervised computer use, like the children in my blog pic here, invite them to Google Search the key words in each of the nine lines of the Students’ Pledge, one at a time.

For example, a search of the words be responsible resulted in how-to tips on developing responsibility, and bumble bee graphics suitable for a classroom bulletin board about responsibility.

Another attentionology idea jackpot! – Catch kids’ attention by assigning students to use online resources related to the Students’ Pledge to design a series of bulletin boards, like one with the header, Bee Responsible.

If you work with younger kids, you may prefer to create your own bulletin boards. You can adjust the language in the Students’ Pledge to be grade-level appropriate to your students.

Shining the spotlight on learning puts teachers at center stage, conducting classes like a maestro with an orchestra. Motivated kids will glow in the light and learn to live into their Students’ Pledge.

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

Talk with you again soon,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet

Tidbits from The Attentionology Traveler

December 10, 2012

Hi and welcome back to Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers!

a world of ideas at your fingertips!

a world of ideas at your fingertips!

What in the world! I’m mixing up the publication of Attentionology features, posting The Attentionology Traveler on a Monday – what’s up?

What’s up is that new mixes and new matches are time-tested attention-getters.

Most kids enjoy mix-ups. Mix-ups are memorable. Ever taken a family trip when the car got a flat tire or broke down? Do the kids remember the sightseeing? No! They remember the vacation mix-up.

Today’s post features tidbits for teachers that I’ve discovered in my travels since last week. See if you can find a tidbit or two, turned into attentionology tricks and tools, that will work for you…

One Happy Classroom – Last Saturday I walked by a parked car from the Caribbean Island of Aruba; it had a license plate above the front bumper that read One Happy Island – Aruba. “What a simple but powerful expression is that!” I thought to myself. Modified for school, how about greeting students at the beginning of a term with this…Welcome to one happy classroom!” Tell the class, “That’s what we are and will be this term.” Happy is good.

Hang up a big surprise – A giant butterfly,

How did this butterfly get to be so BIG?

How did this butterfly get to be so BIG?

the one you see in my blog pic here, graces the wall of a classroom where I recently taught. The butterfly’s size and color are instant attention-grabbers, but what else could this giant do, I wondered?

Here’s an idea…If you can find a BIG something, like this decorative insect, to hang up in your classroom as a surprise, try using it as a writing prompt. Simple lead Q: “How did the _________________ (fill in an appropriate description) get to be so big?” Students will engage in some fantastic writing.

Been there, done that…NO! – I asked a gym acquaintance recently, an older man who is retired from work in law enforcement, if he was enjoying the holiday season. His quick reply…“No, not really, been there, done that.” I nodded out of courtesy, but as I continued race-walking around the track, I felt a little sadness, not for myself, but for people like this man who have grown weary of annual traditions, like those that we celebrate during holidays.

A moment later I pulled out of my funk with the knowledge that teachers of elementary school children can ward off the sense of “been there, done that” because we’re able to see the joy of holidays and other special occasions through the eyes of children for whom the world is still unfolding.

Attentionology Q to ask kids: “Name something you do that you think you could do even better.” Teachers can plant seeds of positive attitudes in children with challenges like this Q that advise, in so many words…please don’t grow into someone who goes around saying, “Been there, done that.”

Send Thank You Poems – As 2012 draws to a close, it’s a good time to encourage children to express appreciation for special people in their lives, especially those (in addition to you) that have helped them this year!

Thank You Poems are delightful attention-getting tools. Let’s say, for example, that you and your class decide to give Thank You Poems (or one collective class poem)

Thank you, Mr. Cortes, for teaching us Spanish this year!

Thank you, Mr. Cortes, for teaching us Spanish this year!

to your school’s Spanish teacher, like Luis Cortes, shown in my blog pic here.

Teachers like Mr. Cortes will never forget your gifts…bi-lingual poem(s), translated from your language into Spanish, with the help of Google Translation, if you need it.

You may decide to invite your class to write Thank You Poems to family members or best friends.

If it suits your grade level, share my poem, Special People, (printed below) with your students to jump-start their writing.

Younger kids can write just a few lines to express thanks.

Special People

Too many to mention, special people we know;

they may be our best friends, or a funny cast of actors

on a favorite TV show.

Special people are all around us; what do special people do?

They add joy to our lives,

offering help and understanding when we feel blue.

Each family has someone or two who are by far

the most special people, the ones we like to talk and be with;

we know who they are.

You’re very special to me, _________________(insert name).

Thank you for being there; you’re a star!

If you find yourself feeling weary as December flies by, take heart in this…the most powerful way to catch and keep kids’ attention may be as simple as saying thank you…thank you for being such special students.

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

Talk with you again soon, and THANK YOU for visiting Attentionology this year.

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet

The Attentionology Traveler

November 24, 2012

a world of ideas at your fingertips!

Hi! Ever thought about the many ways that teachers can travel?

Through the magic of technology, the world really is at our fingertips!

TV Channel-surfing last night, I happened on a major US network news feature about children’s fascination with boxes.

The report affirmed what I’ve learned from my own experience using boxes,

Turn a colorful storage box into a cool teaching tool!

like the one in my blog pic here, to catch and keep kids’ attention in the classroom.

I’ve published three Attentionology posts in three years that offer a variety of ways to use boxes as teaching tools.

Check them out in your online travels: The first post about boxes as tools to help kids learn was on 08/30/10 – Help Students Mind Their Brains.

The second post was on 07/25/11 – Grab Attention with a Smart Box (shown in the blog pic above).

The most recent post was on 02/13/12 – Box Tricks Attract Attention.

It’s back to boxes we go in today’s Attentionology Traveler; a good move to make as many of us begin the biggest holiday season of the year. Holiday gift-giving brings boxes to home and school.

See if you can use boxes as attentionology tools too…

Consider these ideas:

1) BOXES ARE KEEPERS – Make a promise to keep gift boxes that you and members of your family receive this year, for use as creative attention-getting teaching tools in 2013.

2) MAKING A LIST, CHECKING IT TWICE – Tell your class that box-keeping is on your need-to-do list for December. It’s nice, not naughty, to reuse resources like perfectly good boxes!

3) ONE BOX, TWO, NO MATTER HOW FEW – Some of your students may not receive many gifts over the holidays. Suggest that students keep any clean, reusable boxes that arrive at home over the holidays, no matter how few.

4) PLANS FOR SAVED BOXES – Remind the class that every box contribution counts. Advise them that you and they will develop plans for the boxes you all save. All boxes can become much more than packing for presents.

5) GOOD STEWARDSHIP – Elaborate on the connection with saving boxes and environmental stewardship. Begin a discussion on ways that we can all make a difference when we reduce, reuse and recycle.

6) HOLIDAY CHALLENGE – Ask students to spend a little time over the holiday break thinking about what a gift box could become after it delivers a present. Encourage the children to jot down their ideas. If you teach kids in grades 3 – 5 organize your own ideas (and ask students to do the same) into two focus categories: * boxes for learning * boxes for playtime (The two aren’t mutually exclusive, are they!)

Last night’s network news report focused on boxes for playtime. Get the story here.

I’ve added some other possibilities below that you can share with your class to jump-start their thinking about what a box can become for fun and learning…

Refrigerator Box = Space Station

Computer Box = Cat’s (or stuffed animal’s) hiding (pretend hiding) place

Shoe Box = Social Studies or Science Diorama

Shirt Box = 2 Framed cardboard spaces for finger painting

Jewelry Box = Home for saved fortunes from fortune cookies

Speaking of fortunes, there’s no question that children believe that boxes are every bit as, and sometimes even more valuable than the gifts that come inside them!

Traveling on…

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet

The Attentionology Traveler

November 3, 2012

a world of ideas at your fingertips!

Hi! I spent some time yesterday with a powerful attention catcher – keeper…


I pulled a puppet, Little Bear, from a (pretend) nap inside a golden gift bag at a Poetry Party I brought to 100 first grade students.

See if you could use this tool too…

I’ve written about Little Bear, shown in my blog pic below, in an earlier Attentionology post. As you can see in the pic, the focus of Little Bear’s first introduction here was on my using the puppet to help children learn Spanish.

Yesterday, I was reminded of the incredible teaching power that hand puppets

Hand puppets, like Little Bear, can help children learn more than languages.

possess in the hand of an educator willing to wear one.

I’m talking about teaching power that you can employ to teach not only a language but anything you choose to teach with them. Puppets are teachers’ “pals,” adorable attention-grabbers.

Simply said, children love puppets; they will listen to them and share with them in ways they are less apt to do with people.

Remember this…no theatrical background is required on your part to use puppets as teaching tools! Why? Because as soon as you hold up a puppet…behind a book like my blog pic shows…behind a piece of any large scrap of fabric…behind a large sheet of tissue paper folded over your arm…behind anything at all that hides your arm below the puppet, the children will immediately engage with the puppet, setting the stage for learning!

I offered the children a wide teaching range yesterday with Little Bear’s voice (higher pitched and sweeter than my regular voice) as I “made” the puppet answer their questions at the close of the Poetry Party!

I slipped Little Bear on my hand, held him behind a large piece of tissue paper that was in the gift bag, and I told the children that we had one more party guest to meet. “This is Little Bear,” I said, making one of the puppet’s paws wave to them. The kids eeewed and aaahed. “Awwwwwwwwww, isn’t he cute! “Hi Little Bear,” they said in unison.

I turned to Little Bear as if he were a real bear cub (imagination at work!) and turned back to the class. I told the kids that we had time for them to ask Little Bear questions.

Hands flew. Below are some of the kids’ questions (Q) and Little Bear‘s answers (A). The underlined words send an educational message…here’s the key…a message that’s obvious to us but NOT to the children. That’s the magical teaching power of puppets!

Q – What do you like to eat Little Bear?

A – I like to eat healthy food, like berries that I find.

Q – Do you watch TV, Little Bear?

A – I like to play outdoors with friends and read better than I like TV. But I have a few favorite shows that I watch. Bet you do too.

Q – What games do you play, Little Bear?

A – I play some video games, not too many, but my favorite games are word games!

Q – Do you have any friends, Little Bear?

A – Oh yes, friends are so special!

Q – Do you sleep with Ms. Barbara at night, Little Bear?

A – No, I have my own bed (do you know that bears hibernate in the winter?) but sometimes I climb up at the foot of Ms. Barbara’s bed. I like to cuddle!

Love is a wonderful thing, isn’t it. A puppet like Little Bear in the hand of a teacher totally radiates love for children...and in the process…entertains and educates them!

Talk with you again soon,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet

The Attentionology Traveler

October 27, 2012

a world of ideas at your fingertips!

Hi! A change in my travel plans due to Hurricane Sandy’s approach along the east coast of the US prompted me to share another attention catcher – keeper…


See if you could use this attentionology tool too…

Is there anything more attention-getting than a public service announcement in a school, at the airport, wherever…with these words…”May I have your attention please; due to (insert situation here)…all (insert change plans here).”

Research suggests that children benefit from stability, but the world that we live in is anything but stable, in so many ways. So, teachers like us can help elementary school students learn to cope with change and successfully travel through a world of uncertainty by introducing and interpreting signs of change in the course of our instruction.

Implementing this strategy involves creative thinking on our part. For  example, I recently taught in a school where one of the teachers I worked with had posted a sign at the front of her classroom that read in English CAFE,


like you see in my blog pic here.

The teacher’s original intent with this set of four signs  was to remind her students about key factors in reading.

As the signs show,

= comprehension.

= accuracy.

F = fluency.

E = expand vocabulary.

I looked again at this set of signs, on the heels of changed plans due to a major storm, and discovered that each letter in the word CAFE took on a new, expanded meaning. You may be able to use these new meanings too.

Beyond the connection with key reading skills I saw that…

C = comprehension and change. Stories are to be understood but they change with the fiction and non-fiction that we introduce to children and the fiction and non-fiction that they discover on their own.

A = accuracy. Accuracy today, in an information and technology-driven world requires much more than just accuracy in identifying words; children need to learn that fact checks matter, too.

F = fluency. Elementary school students today need to develop the ability to  read and speak smoothly, not only in their first language, but also in other languages of the world. Just visit an airport to know this! Anything that teachers can do to help develop children’s awareness of the “global community” will benefit their students.

E = expand vocabulary. This is a great concept, but do you agree that it’s important to also expand, in age-appropriate ways, not only students’ vocabulary in their first language, but also their interest in finding and using words that relate to a world of change.

See if you catch and keep your class’ attention with these words, “We have a change of plans for our school schedule today…” Bet you do!

Traveling on…

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet

The Attentionology Traveler

October 19, 2012

a world of ideas at your fingertips!

Hi! I caught a bug in a classroom I recently visited, but it wasn’t the kind that causes the flu; it was another attention catcher – keeper…


See if you could use this tool too…

The bugs (three large plastic toy insects) were sitting on a table near the classroom library, probably leftover from a science project.  I got another attentionology idea looking at them, shown in my blog pic below.

I picked one of the bugs up to ask about it and a kid in class suggested that it was a love bug! In the English language “love bug” is a term of endearment. I don’t know (please tell me if you know) whether this expression translates well into other languages and cultures. If not but you like this attentionology trick, you can present it as part of an English language lesson.

The trick…turn plastic toy “love bugs”

Attention Bugs crawl across papers to help kids stay on task in class.


Here’s what to say to kids: “Attention Bugs LOVE to pay attention in school.  Attention Bugs are also Love Bugs.”

Get the class involved in the concept. “Do Attention Bugs only show up for Valentine’s Day because they’re Love Bugs?” you might ask. “NO! Attention Bugs LOVE to pay attention all year ’round!” 

Look for an inexpensive bag of plastic toy insects in a dollar, toy, or “big box” store. When you introduce this attentionology trick, tell the class that staying focused and on task is SO IMPORTANT, you’re giving an Attention Bug to every student. Pass out the toy insects and explain that students may keep the bugs on top of or inside their desks as Pay Attention Reminders.

Once you’ve introduced Attention Bugs to your class they become helpful classroom management tools. If a student starts to lose focus during a lesson, you can suggest that he/she quickly touch his/her Attention Bug to get back on track. Attention bugs can help eliminate lost time in class. 

Another trick…Know the English expression, “I’ll put a bug in his/her ear,” meaning I’ll offer a suggestion? Keep a plastic toy insect (the teacher’s Attention Bug) in your pocket or hand as you walk around class checking on student work. When you see that a student has made mistakes with a set of math problems or spelling words, for example, gently bring your Attention Bug near the child’s ear and whisper, “My Attention Bug hopes that you’ll check for mistakes before turning in your paper. Remember to pay close attention to your work!” 

Attention Bugs help students stay focused all year long!

You can also use your teacher’s Attention Bug to remind the whole class to stay focused at the outset of a lesson, like you see in my blog pic here.

Most kids love bugs, the harmless kind. Attention Bugs will get their attention.

Use word play when you show the bugs. For example, you can say, “The butterfly dances for joy when she spells a word right because she listened so well in flight.”  

We’re all challenged with teaching distraction-prone students. Create an Attention Bug craze in your class to help kids stay on task!

Traveling on…

Barbara The Lovable Poet

The Attentionology Traveler

October 6, 2012

a world of ideas at your fingertips!

Hi! I reunited with another attention catcher – keeper. See if you could use this tool too…

Show me THE BIG E! (You may need to substitute “E” for the first letter of your alphabet that begins the word energy in your language.) Read on…

My heart ached for  many of the children I taught last week, a new (to me) group of tired-looking, tired-acting third grade students.

I walked into what I call “Slouch City” the first day. There before me, children with circles under their eyes, very few smiles, downcast-looking, many with vacant expressions.

Has this been your experience? Other teachers I’ve discussed this experience with have said that they’ve seen this sad state too. Children seem to be exhausted even at the start of the school day. They also seem to be feeling a huge amount of pressure to perform to test standards these days (ring a bell for our own situation as teachers?)

Of course I felt for the kids, but my mind elbowed me with a reminder that my job in the classroom is not to evaluate the educational system; it’s to “get the class in gear” encouraging them to the make the most of our week together.

What did I do to wake up the sleepyheads? I explained that I needed them to SHOW ME THE BIG E!

This attentionology trick is absolutely classroom-tested. Try it! You’ll like it; I promise!

Kids in every grade, K – 5, LOVE THE BIG E. The name alone sounds so friendly. Here’s how I bring THE BIG E into the class’ consciousness:

I outline our day/week ahead and as we talk together, I say this,” When you see me come through the door, I want you to think of THE BIG E. I need you to show me ENERGY!” “We have to pull it up and out from within ourselves.” I continue. “We have to use self-discipline.”

I explain to the class that it takes ENERGY to get good work done. “When we write, ________________________ (add in any task that suits your instructional needs) we take what is in our minds and our hearts, and with our hands, we get the work done.” I point to my head, my heart and I hold my hands out in front of me to add emphasis to the message.

I tell the class that I have THE BIG E with me,

THE BIG E loves kids that show energy to get good work done!

like you see in my blog pic here.

I reach into my teaching bag and dramatically pull out a giant blue letter E. Sometimes the kids clap for it, seriously!

As the week goes along, some students ask me to show them THE BIG E again; the large blue letter becomes a friend to them. Even when I don’t show it, I can refer to THE BIG E any time I need to remind kids to stay out of “Slouch City.”

Ask me if the 100 students I worked with last week had fun AND got a lot of good work done. Yes they did, and I think a big reason why is my introduction and application of THE BIG E!

Traveling on…

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet

The Attentionology Traveler

September 29, 2012

a world of ideas at your fingertips!

Hi! I rediscovered another attention catcher – keeper. See if it helps you…


I located these four power words in the post I first wrote to share them with readers like you. The post offers attentionology tricks to help students apply SRRR for self-assessments.

Today’s Attentionology Traveler isn’t so much for students though; it’s for me and you. By the way, how are YOU doing?

I’ve had a rough week. My car needed some major (expensive) repairs and my daughter’s been sick. I am acutely aware that a huge number of people around the world have problems far more severe than mine; I know that we all bump into rough spots.

When times get tough for me or I feel as though my head is spinning from too many simultaneous changes, challenges or pressures, I reach for

Focus attention on power words.

power words to…what else…empower me!

I call up stop, review, reflect, renew in my mind, and that action allows me to gain some objectivity and begin to handle the problem.

The sequence is important:

Step 1: STOP It’s hard to stop when you’re speeding through a day. Just put yourself on pause and take some deep breaths. Try to break away for a minute. When you come back to what you need to review, pretend you’ve never seen it before.

Step 2: REVIEW I find it helpful to begin a review with a set of questions. (A business owner taught me this) Write the questions to suit the subject. Here are six basic Qs: 1) What’s my goal? 2) What do I already have to reach it? 3) What do I lack? 4) How will I get what I need? 5) What steps will I take to reach my goal? 6) How will I know that I’ve accomplished it?

Step 3: REFLECT The review you’ve done becomes data to reflect on. Turn reflection time into an action plan that benefits from new insight.

Step 4: RENEW I like the positive feeling in the word renewWalking through the four steps that make these power words work can energize and enable us to manage difficult situations and move on!

My daughter’s better now, thankfully, and my car’s fixed and ready to drive to school come Monday. Hope you and I have a good week ahead!

Traveling on…

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet