Posts Tagged ‘Literary’

The Magic Hat – Mid-Week Focus – Conquering Worries

March 20, 2013
What's under the magic hat today? Tricks to help kids conquer worries.

What’s under the magic hat today? Tricks to help kids conquer worries.

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 HELP CHILDREN (AND OURSELVES) CONQUER WORRIES!

In the school where I’m teaching this week, I’ve already seen sights that have brought me face to face once again with the reality that many children come to school burdened with all kinds of worries. Have you seen this too?

My experience tells me that kids’ carrying un – or -under-addressed worries in their minds and hearts are less able to stay focused on learning in school.

Enter another Attentionology trick…one specifically designed to catch kids’ attention with helpful steps that they can take to conquer their worries.

Oh yes…and teaching children how to manage worrisome feelings helps teachers as well…helps any adults that care for kids to manage our own worrisome feelings. Trust me; I know; I’m a working mother/teacher.

Remember this…Teaching is a great way to learn!

Let’s call the Attentionology trick “Size It Up!.”

Even proud lions sometimes feel worried.

Even proud lions sometimes feel worried.

If you like it, share it with your class.

Use my writing (see below) with a reminder to your class that even the proudest lion, like the one in my blog pic here, sometimes feels worried. (Post a picture of a lion in your classroom to help kids visualize this concept.)

SIZE IT UP!

Call it a problem; call it a challenge; call it whatever you want; when you have something difficult to deal with, it can seem totally overwhelming!

All kinds of unpleasant images may come to mind. You may picture yourself being eaten by a lion or swallowed down a drain. Maybe you imagine that you’re a mouse cowering at the foot of an elephant or a traveler stooped over with a too-heavy backpack as you gaze up a mountain that appears way to high to climb.

Wait a minute! Maybe if you calm down and size up the problem, you’ll see that after all, it’s one that you can solve! Then you can picture yourself in the winner’s circle!

Let’s get started with the following steps:

Step 1 – Size up the problem.

Okay, what’s the deal? Ask and answer the following questions: Is your problem really as big as if first seemed? Why is it a problem? Is the problem something that you can fix all by yourself or do you need help?

Step 2 – Break up your problem into pieces.

Problems are like puzzles. When your problem seems too big to fix in one fell swoop, break it up into pieces that you can work on one at a time. After you fix all of the pieces, the puzzle will come together.

Step 3 – Set goals.

When you have a problem to deal with, it’s helpful to set goals that you can reach. Depending on the size of the problem, you may need short-term and long-term goals. List some fairly quick steps you can take to get to a goal. Build confidence as your problem shrinks in size.

Step 4 – Reward yourself.

Give yourself a pat on the back each time you take a step toward solving your problem and each time you reach a goal. If adults are helping you deal with your problem, talk with them about other rewards that may spur you toward the finish line. Picture yourself in the winner’s circle!

Step 5 – Drop the negative attitude from the get-go.

A negative attitude blocks solutions. Surround yourself with positive people. Find a can-do attitude and keep it!

There’s an old-timey song about “smilers never losing and frowners never winning.” Life isn’t nearly that simple in today’s world – for children or adults – but positive “vibes” are still a powerful force for conquering worries.

We speed through our days together, don’t you think. The relentless pace and the escalation of change can result in uncertainty and worry that is sometimes left un-articulated in the rush of our lives.

That’s why teachers are well-advised to be on the lookout for worried children in school. Simple steps, like the ones outlined above, can pave the way to conquering focus-blockers, helping kids learn more and feel better about themselves and the world around them.

Talk with you again soon,

Barbara The Lovable Poet

The Magic Hat – Mid-Week Focus – Heartfelt Greetings

March 13, 2013

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 ENCOURAGE KIDS TO INCLUDE HANDWRITTEN CARDS & LETTERS IN THEIR COMMUNICATIONS. 

A recent news feature about the letters of world-famous figures nudged me to focus this week on the magic of writing and sending greetings to special people in our lives.

Print greetings, handmade, hand-picked, handwritten, stamped and sent by “snail mail” seem to “come from the heart” more than do cards sent electronically, although many online options for creating and emailing cards exist.

KEEP THOSE CARDS A-COMIN’! – Have you noticed like I have that elementary school children love to make cards to send to family members celebrating a birthday or other occasion?

In my writing classes when time permits I often allow kids to draft poems for a special occasion and design a card in which to place the finished poem. You can offer your class this attention-grabbing activity, too.

CELEBRATE ST. PATRICK’S DAY WITH HANDMADE CARDS

Slip some Irish treasures inside handmade St. Patrick's Day cards!

Slip some Irish treasures inside handmade St. Patrick’s Day cards!

Everyone knows that you don’t have to be Irish (I do have a wee bit o’ the Irish in me, though) to participate in the wearin’ o’ the green on March 17!

You and your class still have time to whip up St. Patrick’s Day cards for the kids to take home at the end of the week. Or you may save this plan for next year.

  • Fold white copy paper twice to make small standard-size cards that will fit into inexpensive small white envelopes (available in “big box” and office supply stores).
  • Invite students to design, yes design their cards before making them. NOTE: Making cards is a cool way to introduce basic design to young students. Explain that a designer has to plan the whole work before starting to draw, color, etc. What will be on the card cover, the inside and back? What words will be in the poem and the greeting?
  • Set time for students to draw, color, write their cards.
  • Distribute the envelopes.

Here’s a quick clever trick for the card-making…give students short shamrock bookmarks cut from Paddy’s Day napkins and a few good luck coins, like you see in my blog pic above. Suggest that they slip the little treasures inside their cards. It’s fun to open cards that include treasure!

I’ve observed, and you may have too, that kids get into the art part of card making with ease, but benefit from encouragement to write a well-developed poem and greeting that is appropriate for their grade level.

"I can't wait to make a card with this poem inside it!"

“I can’t wait to make a card with this poem inside it!”

HANDMADE CARDS & LETTERS COME FROM THE HEART

Look at the students writing in my blog pic here; you can feel the emotion that they’re pouring into their work!

Offering opportunities to children to write cards and letters is a great way to:

  1. develop strong student writing skills.
  2. help students learn and master basic letter writing formats.
  3. encourage self-expression, noting that for some it’s easier to share feelings in print than it is out loud.
  4. create a sense of community within your school. For example, you can ask your class to write thank you letters to your custodial staff for their daily service or to your PTA for sponsoring a special program.
A display of letters expressing, "We're lucky all year long!"

A display of letters expressing, “We’re lucky all year long!”

WE’RE LUCKY ALL YEAR LONG!

Here’s another attentionology trick to try…

Invite students to write letters that show appreciation for all that your school offers them.

Young kids may get a kick out of writing their letters to your school mascot or, for St. Patrick’s Day, to a leprechaun!

You may display the class letters on a bulletin board like you see in my blog pic here, featuring letters with leprechaun illustrations.

Older students can accept the challenge of writing their letters to the principal who will cherish them, don’t you think.

Quick and easy magical tricks to help kids learn; that’s what’s in store each week under the magic hat!

What's under the magic hat today?

What’s under the magic hat today?

Talk with you again soon,

BarbaraThe Lovable Poet

Attentionology Power Play – Pay Unexpected Compliments

February 22, 2013
Use Attentionology Power Plays to get what you want!

Use Attentionology Power Plays to get what you want!

It’s Barbara here, The Lovable Poet, a “wordsmith” ready to help you

What’s your goal?

Trying to “sell” kids on staying focused and on task in class?

Working to advance your career?

Strategizing to boost sales of a product or service in a field other than education?

Whatever you’re aiming to achieve, you need to catch and keep people’s attention! In a world full of distractions you need the benefit of extra tools and tricks to get and stay noticed.

Put today’s Attentionology Power Play to work for you…

…PAY AN UNEXPECTED COMPLIMENT

In school? Start the day with this, “Class, I have a compliment to pay to you…” (complete this sentence, being sincere in your choice of words. Watch for happy faces, all eyes on you.)

In an office? Knock on the door (in-person, not electronically) of your boss or co-worker and ask if they have a minute. Tell her or him, “I just wanted to say that I’m really enjoying working with you” (only if your sentiment is sincere; work this “trick” with someone who deserves your praise). Watch his or her expression change from “What now!” to “Wow; thanks for that!” The door might stay open for a longer conversation that you’ve been wanting.

Keep my Attentionology Power Plays “in your pocket” every day!

BarbaraThe Lovable Poet

The Magic Hat – Mid-Week Focus – Catchy Communications

February 20, 2013

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 ALL – TEACHERS AND PARENTS – KEEP COMMUNICATION LINES OPEN TO HELP CHILDREN GET THE BEST EDUCATION POSSIBLE.

Eileen Batson, communications guru

Eileen Batson, communications guru

Meet a communications expert, Eileen Batson, shown in my blog pic here.

I first introduced Eileen to readers last November (11/28/12). She has graciously agreed to serve again as a guest blogger on Attentionology, offering us a second set of “tricks” to achieve effective online communications.

Eileen works with individuals – educators and parents, business owners, authors and artists – to help them reach desired audiences, including elementary school students.

More about Eileen’s good work in a while. First let’s check out the new pointers she shares below.

According to Eileen, one of the most valuable actions that parents and teachers can take to ensure a good education and overall well-being of children is this…keep the link between classroom and home strong throughout the school year by using attention-getting communication tools and tricks.

Eileen is aware that creating and maintaining these “links” may seem like a daunting task, especially considering school breaks, the track system, and the number of students a teacher has in her/his class(es).

But, it’s doable, she believes. Eileen offers the following Parent Teacher Communication Tips to try, using technology whenever possible, and other resources such as the “good old telephone.”

1. Contact parents with good news regularly with calls or emails.

As most teachers know, the most important thing to remember when creating rapport with a parent at the beginning of a school term or initially at any time is to make the first phone call a positive one.

Getting in touch with a few students’ families or guardians per week is likely manageable during a planning period or after school. I suggest that you put the names you select to contact each week in your planner; you’re more likely to follow through with this strategy.

2. Create a Web Site for Yourself and/or Your Class.

A Web Site doesn’t have to be fancy to be effective. I suggest that you design or get assistance designing a basic Web site that includes the following:

  • important contact numbers
  • your email address
  • a short biography and picture of you and maybe you interacting with students
  • an overall explanation of your “yearly mission” as a teacher
  • an outline of what you will be teaching
  • a brief statement about the importance of students using notebooks and an agenda
  • your homework policy
  • your grading system
  • tutoring (if any) you or other staff members offer after school
  • a recommended student supply list
  • your expectations and goals for the term/year
  • suggestions for parents on how they can reinforce student learning in language arts and reading using pictures and helpful Web sites

You can set up your site using WordPress or Blogger.

3. Publish a Pamphlet.

If, for whatever reason, you’re not able to manage

Color catches attention; no doubt about it!

Color catches attention; no doubt about it!

a Web site, there’s huge value in distributing a  traditional newsletter or pamphlet to parents during Open Houses or when you conference with them about their students.

Microsoft Publisher can help you design and print an attractive, informative newsletter or pamphlet (with a colorful cover like you see in the blog pic above).

4. Set up a social network on wall.fm or gaggle.net where students and parents can message their teacher and each other.

This creates a sense of community and belonging.

What is Gaggle.net? Gaggle’s communication suite enables educators, students and parents to communicate anytime and anywhere. Gaggle (https://gaggle.net/) is dedicated to providing safe email accounts for students. The tools that Gaggle provides allow schools to feel secure when giving their students email access.

On the Gaggle Network, teachers control what can be written and who can correspond with the students. Messages with inappropriate words are automatically re-routed to the teacher’s account. This allows the teacher to decide whether or not the student gets to see the message.

Check out the awesome communication features of the Gaggle Network:

  • Gaggle Email: Allows safe electronic communication for schools and students.
  • Web-based service for access anywhere with constant filtering and control of student accounts.
  • Gaggle Blogs: Provide a place where students can share their thoughts, ideas, and creativity in a secure environment. Teacher blogs can be shared with parents for easy home-school communication.
  • Discussion Boards: Support curriculum and extend learning with ongoing classroom discussions. Teachers can create boards restricted to specified students and classes, with all of Gaggle’s filtering in place.
  • Parent Accounts: Provide accounts for parents to easily communicate with teachers and their own children, but prohibit contact with other students. Parents can access and review their child’s email messages, locker files, and blogs.
  • Gaggle SMS Texting: Provides safe teacher and student mobile texting, with all incoming and outgoing text messages filtered and logged thru the Gaggle SMS Gateway. By utilizing the Gateway, individual cell numbers are protected with only Gaggle’s number displayed.

Great information, Eileen; thank you! 

As a publicist and owner of Batson Group Marketing and PR for 25+ years, Eileen Batson consults, holds workshops, and speaks on public relations, social networking, marketing and blogging.

She is currently on the Board of Directors for Women’s Power Networking and Co-Organizer for their Crabtree Chapter in Raleigh, NC (US). Martin Brossman and Anora McGaha selected her chapter on public relations for inclusion in their book Social Media for Business. Eileen lives in Raleigh with her husband, award-winning author and publisher Jon Batson. Visit Eileen at www.BGMPR.com

What will be under the magic hat in coming weeks?

YOU can help decide by scrolling down and leaving a comment about topics you’d like The Magic Hat – Mid-Week Focus to address.

Check back with Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers again soon,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet

Share Crafty “Secrets” for Valentine’s Day!

February 4, 2013

Hi and welcome back to Attentionology for Teachers!

Got a secret to share? Maybe love bugs, like you see in my blog pic

Attention Bugs become "love bugs" in the month of Valentine's Day.

Attention Bugs (See 10/19/12 post) become “love bugs” in the month of Valentine’s Day.

here, have you smitten, but you’re not sure about sharing the focus of your attention.

Go ahead…kids will get a kick out of your “secret” when you announce what it’s about…you love these bugs because THEY LOVE ATTENTION.

You can elaborate on your affection for attention by telling the class this…it’s NO SECRET that students study better and learn more when they stay focused and on task in class.

Love bugs are perfect to share (along with secrets) especially during the month of Valentine’s Day. Read on to find catchy Valentine’s (and all-season) writing and craft activities to try with your class.

For the love of teaching, what’s more attention-getting than announcing this, “I have a secret to share with you.”

Secret Wishes – Reveal one of your own; then invite volunteers to share their secret wishes. Encourage fact-based or fantasy-based “secrets,” depending on the goals of activities you plan.

Let’s say for example, that you hope to promote more interest in reading, beginning with fiction (we know that kids love fantastic stories).

Invite a "Harry Potter" look-alike to class to reveal your secret wish for magical powers!

Invite a “Harry Potter” look-alike to class to reveal your secret wish for magical powers!

Share a fantasy-based secret wish…you’d love to have the magical powers of a literary character like J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter.

If you plan this activity ahead you can even invite a colleague or available parent to dress up as “Harry Potter”, like the classroom guest in my blog pic here.

Don’t forget the key attentionology trick…

After you share a story-related secret of your own, invite kids to tell theirs…what book characters do they wish they could be?

Pass Me the Passport Please! – Got a secret faraway place you’d like to visit? I’d like to boat ride along a river in

The "River of Painted Birds" flows north to south in South America.

The “River of Painted Birds” flows north to south in South America.

Uruguay, in the southeastern part of South America (shown on the world map here) whose name, Uruguay, means “river of the painted birds” in Guarani.

I’ve learned that Guarani is an old, indigenous language, spoken along with the (now primary) languages of Spanish and Portuguese, in several South American countries.

Beautiful! River of the Painted Birds…I’ll be encouraging students in my writing classes to use this name as a title for a poem or story of their own, complete with colorful illustrations.

Ready the River Reports – If your curriculum requires a focus on non-fiction reading and writing, invite students in upper elementary grades to name a river they’d like to travel to see; research its location; discover the plants that grow there and animals (like “painted” birds) that live there; then write reports about the river.

Design, Write and Share Secret Poems – Throughout history and across the globe, many secret thoughts and feelings have been revealed through poems.

Try this attentionology trick and invite your class to follow your lead. Kids LOVE this activity. It’s perfect for Valentine’s Day. Check out

Kids LOVE to fold paper to make a hidden strip for writing a SECRET POEM!

Kids LOVE to fold paper to make a hidden strip for writing a SECRET POEM!

my blog pic here, that shows a student’s secret poem with heart art.

Follow these steps to create Secret Poems:

1) Hold up a piece of 8 1/2 x 11 inch white copy paper.

2) Fold the right vertical side of the paper to the left to make a 2-inch wide inside “poem strip.” The  paper will now measure 6 1/2 inches wide.

3) Draw (and color if you like) hearts all over the folded paper, front and back. (Do not draw on the white section that remains when you re-open the paper to a full 8 1/2 inches wide.) Set the heart-covered paper aside.

4) On a separate sheet of notebook paper write a Valentine’s Day-themed poem in narrow lines that go all the way down the page.  This long, narrow format will fit in the white paper “poem strip” space of the heart-covered paper.

5) After you draft your poem, handwritten or or computer-typed, check grammar and spelling; then clearly rewrite or print out the poem (in a space no wider than 2 inches, no longer than 8 1/2 inches) on a new sheet of white paper.

6) Cut out the finished poem in a long narrow strip.

7) Glue the “poem strip” to the inside blank section of the white paper.  The right edge of “poem strip” should align with the right edge of the paper so that when you fold the paper again, the poem is hidden; it becomes a “secret.”

8) Hold up the folded Secret Poem paper, show the front and back to the class, and announce that you have a secret to share. Open the page and reveal the poem. Fun!!!

I’ve designed and written a Secret Poem titled, After the Rain. Both sides

When the "poem strip" at right is folded to the left, the poem becomes a secret!

When the “poem strip” at right is folded to the left, the poem becomes a secret! Feel free to download the poem.

of the poem page, including the side with the “poem strip” are shown in my blog pics here and below.

I’ve also printed the long, narrow lines below. Note that some lines have only a single word or letter (like the word f-a-l-l-s). That’s part of the magic of poetry writing.***

When I present this poem to students, I first say that After the Rain is a poem that asks a single question. Listen,” I ask for attention with a single command; then I begin reading aloud.

You’re welcome to print and share this poem with your class. To save it, just right-click on the image and c

I hope you enjoy it. *** To save post space, I’ve printed the word f-a-l-l-s all on one line here.

After

the rain

falls

from

an

angry sky,

how can

raindrop

clusters

on

freshly

washed

green 

leaves 

glisten

like

a big smile,

smell sweet

as a child

after

bath time,

form

tiny puddles

inviting

touch,

remind me

of tasty

melted ice

in summer,

smell like

spring,

and 

quiet me

with

their silence?

Leaves, ready to color, cover the back of a secret poem page.

Leaves with raindrop clusters, ready to color, cover the back of a secret poem page. Download

We need to be smart about the secrets we share, of course, but when we select ones that reveal learning-based information, we can count on catching and keeping kids’ attention for a good cause.

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

The Magic Hat – Mid-Week Focus – Encouraging Curiosity

January 9, 2013

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.

What's under the magic hat today?

What’s under the magic hat today?

Let’s share insight and practical ideas.

Let’s blend fun with function, and LET’S ENCOURAGE KIDS TO USE THEIR NATURAL CURIOSITY TO INVESTIGATE, DISCOVER, LEARN!

What’s under the magic hat today?

Surprises…for your students and for you! Read on…

One of the best ways to encourage curiosity in children is to model this important characteristic.

Beth Schetter, a fourth/fifth grade teacher shown in my blog pic below, is a curious teacher. She’s always looking for ways to enhance her instructional techniques and assist students with academic challenges.

As you can see, Beth has posted the words curious and smart on the whiteboard behind her desk.

The words "curious" and "smart" appear in bright marker on the board behind Beth Schetter.

The words “curious” and “smart” appear in bright marker on the board behind Beth Schetter.

Posting word prompts is a simple but effective attentionology trick.

Beth uses these and other prominently posted words to:

1) encourage students to be curious…to read MORE, write MORE, investigate and discover MORE in every subject they study.

2) help students make the connection between being curious and becoming smart.

Quick questions catch kids’ attention and encourage curiosity. I’m guessing that you use quick questions like I do.

"What's wacky about gorillas?"

“What’s wacky about gorillas?”

For example, I’m planning to begin an upcoming writing lesson by holding the stuffed animal with the book you see in my blog pic here. I’ll ask the class, “What’s wacky about gorillas?”

Hands will fly with answers and more questions.

Curiosity will be off and running, leading to a writing activity about the students’ favorite wacky animals they know.

Encouraging curiosity also helps spark student interest in research. About those wacky animals…I’ll suggest to the class that we read MORE about wacky wildlife.

Ever thought about this…WORDS themselves are wacky, too.

Have you discovered like I have that kids love to learn the origin of words? For example, my students are delighted when I tell them that the English word cookie comes from the Dutch word koekje.

I briefly elaborate on the word origin, explaining that Dutch settlers in New York (US) introduced koekje into the English language. The spelling has evolved to the present word, cookie.

Quick little pickups on word derivations can lead to snap history lessons…an effective attentionology trick.

Speaking of word derivations, I got curious about where the English word, cool came from, so I did a little research and the results are your surprise under the magic hat today.  Hope you enjoy the writing…

Forever Cool!

Swell has slipped away. Hip took a hop into history. Groovy lost its edge. Marvy isn’t marvelous anymore. Fab’s become foreign. Far out is way out and neat is in the bin with sweet. Phat is no longer that. Awesome is aged (but still popular). Da bombe has hit the dirt BUT cool remains forever cool.

Cool is the real deal. It’s an amazing word. As a verb in formal English, cool means to become less warm, as in take a dip to cool off.

As a noun and an adjective, cool is a description of temperature, as in the cool of early morning or a coolish day.

Cool as an idiom or slang word has behind it an entire evolution revolution!

  • The slang word, cool, can be traced as far back as Beowulf’s middle English meaning of cool as a description of someone calm, unexcited or unemotional.
  • The older English meaning of cool was sometimes a negative expression. To be unemotional could mean to be withdrawn, depressed, lacking in warmth or unenthusiastic, as in giving or getting a cool reception.
  • In the 18th century, cool as slang assumed the meaning of calm or unexcited, as in, “He’s as cool as a cucumber.”
  • In the 19th century, cool continued to refer to someone who was self-assured, even impudent, as expressed in phrases such as “He’s a cool fish.”
  • In the American “gangster era” of the 1920s, cooling someone off meant icing the guy, “bye-bye,” as in “He was headed for the cooler…permanently!
  • As American business began to boom after World War I, cool became a slang word associated with making big bucks, as in, “That deal was worth a cool million.”
  • Cool changed its tone in African-American English in the 1930s when cool became slang for something bad or wicked.
  • In the 1940s, with the growing popularity of jazz in America, cool became a lasting description of something exciting, enjoyable, even exceptional as in “Man, listen to the cool beat.” Jazz great, Charlie Parker, wrote “Cool Blues” in 1947.
  • Beginning in the late 1940s cool was also used to refer to something being merely satisfactory or acceptable as in “That’s cool with me,” a use that continues today.
  • In the 1950s, stay cool meant be cautious, in control, unemotional. This meaning also continues today with expressions like keeping a cool head.
  • In the 1960s, stay cool was written into the lyrics of the American classic, West Side Story.
  • Since the 1960s people all over the world have continued to use the word cool. It has staying power. It’s an attentionology tool; cool continues to rule!

What are you curious about? What do your students tell you they’d like to know? Sometimes the shortest questions can lead to long, interesting, attention-sustaining answers…and a whole lot of learning!

Talk with you again soon,

BarbaraThe Lovable Poet

The Magic Hat – Mid-Week Focus – Comforting Kids

December 19, 2012

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 LOOK FOR WAYS TO COMFORT KIDS WHEN THEY NEED IT!

What's under the magic hat today?

What’s under the magic hat today?

What’s under the magic hat today?

I wish it were a magic wand that could wave away hurt and pain, not just in a community that has suffered city-wide horror, like Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut (US), but also in every child’s corner of the world when personal or collective pain punches a heart.

Lacking that ability, I can only offer some attention-getting tools that may hopefully:

offer a little comfort when children (and adults) need it.

♥ help students return their focus to learning.

You may have read about or even been part of an organized effort this week to send teddy bears to the children of Sandy Hook ES.

Comforting Teddy Bears – My blog pic below offers a poem about the comfort that teddy bears give children.

Kids find comfort hugging a soft teddy bear.

Kids find comfort hugging a soft teddy bear.

You can print the poem and make copies for your kids. Just click the image and a full size version will open for printing or downloading.

Invite them to color the white parts of the bears to personalize the poem and draw a frame around the page.

Comfort isn’t just for kids – Have you found, as I have, that teachers who use tools and tricks to offer comfort to students that need it end up feeling comforted too?

Give Kids a Tool to Find Comfort – Plan a writing activity in the new year that introduces a useful tool for kids to use when they need to express feelings for someone they’ve lost. Choose an approach that is age-appropriate for your class.

Open the activity with a question,“Have you ever lost a pet, a special member of your family like a grandmother, or a friend?

Offer this thought, “As hard as it is to lose someone we love, it’s important to know how to find and feel comfort when we’re sad.”

Lead into the writing activity saying, “When we love someone, we can keep them with us even when they aren’t present through our memories of them.”

Pass out notebook paper and instruct students to follow these steps:

1) Write the name of someone you loved who is now gone, or (if a child has yet to lose someone special) that you don’t get to see as much as you’d like to.

2) Write words, phrases (more than one word but not a full sentence) or sentences (teacher’s choice depending on grade level) that describe your best memories of that someone special.

3) Write your name at the bottom of the page.

4) Optional: On a voluntary basis only, invite students to read their writing aloud to the class.

Heart of Flowers Frame for the poem, Extra Heart

Heart of Flowers Frame for the poem, Extra Heart

Send an Extra Heart – K – 5 children are all bundles of love, aren’t they…even when we’re sometimes inclined to say, “They’re sweet… when they’re sleeping!”

When a sad situation occurs in your community, some of your students might find joy and comfort in coloring and cutting out the heart in my blog pic here, if you can print and copy it, and framing my Extra Heart poem, printed below.

Steps to Follow:

1) Color the flowers in the heart frame.

2) Cut out the flower frame along the dotted lines.

3) Draw a box 5 in. x 5 in. on a sheet of white paper.

4) Print the Extra Heart poem (below); make the writing fit inside the box, using single spacing.  Note: I’ve printed the poem below with double spacing for clarity.

5) Cut out the box and tape or glue it to the back of the heart frame.

6) Trim any part of the  poem box that shows around the outer edges of the frame. Be careful not to cut the frame itself.

7) Optional: Glue the framed poem to a piece of colored card stock and trim again. Attach a magnet square (available in craft stores) to display the framed poem on any magnetic surface.

8) Give or send the framed poem to someone special or in need of comfort.

Extra Heart

Everyone needs a little extra heart

When the going gets tough,

When things fall apart.

If I could frame this poem for you

I’d create a heart of flowers,

An extra heart to help you through.

I’d color the flowers a golden hue,

Then place the heart with special care, sending

Blessings and love from me to you!

Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers will return on Monday, December 31. Happy Holidays to all who will be celebrating between now and then,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet

The Magic Hat – Mid-Week Focus – Awesome Animals

December 12, 2012

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 SPARK KIDS’ INTEREST IN LEARNING WITH AWESOME ANIMALS!

Black hat

What’s under the magic hat today?

Attention-getting poems, stories, facts and fantasy about animals from around the world that teachers can link to lesson plans.

Children love animals! Use them as teaching tools and watch passive learners transform into more engaged participants in your class.

Think about animals that connect with the history and traditions of your country, are the most famous or best-loved. Let’s say, for example, that an American teacher is teaching fifth grade students about the history of the US postal service. Do I hear kids yawning? Not if the teacher leads into the lesson with this question: Class, have you ever heard of Owney – The US Mail Dog?

Shown in my blog pic below,

Owney, the US Mail Dog, offers a dog-gone catchy key to history!

Owney, the US Mail Dog, offers a dog-gone catchy key to history!

on the cover of a book about his life, Owney inspired me to write a rhyming poem about him after I visited the fascinating US Postal Museum that is part of The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.

When I’ve shared Owney’s poem – all eight stanzas (see below) – with students in grades four and five, they’ve asked a slew of questions afterwards – a good indicator of their interest in Owney. A beloved, real-life dog prompts students to listen and learn, in this instance, about history.

Owney – The U.S. Mail Dog  

 Little orphan, Owney, was cold one eve in 1888;

he crept inside Albany, New York’s post office;

cuddled up on mailbags he found on a crate. 

*****

Postal clerks spotted the terrier next ‘morn,

took pity, fed the pup, took him in to stay;

Owney’s place in American history was born.

*****

Owney loved to ride in any rail mail car;

he became mascot of the Railway Mail Service;

the lucky dog traveled to depots near and far.

 ***** 

How Owney got his name is a mystery to this day;

some say it’s from asking who owned the dog;

maybe a man named Owen took Owney on his way.

*****

Owney traveled on trains; he sailed on boats in style.

Before his adventurous life was done

               Owney had crossed a hundred-forty-three-thousand miles!

*****

Owney wore a gift, a very special jacket

with tags that marked his travels.

When Owney ran, his jacket made a jingle jangle racket.

 *****

Owney guarded the mail, his reputation spread,

Friends and fans wrote poems about him like,

“Owney is a tramp, please be kind, give him a bed.”

 *****

When Owney died in 1897, his story wasn’t done;

the Railway Mail Service Superintendent

placed Owney for visitors to see forever, at the Smithsonian.

Animals, real ones like Owney, as well as stuffed animal toys, can motivate children to master key skills such as becoming competent readers of non-fiction (presented above in poetic form).

Try this activity: Dogs Make the Best Pets! Fact or Opinion? Background: Learning to recognize and write about the difference between fact and opinion is a key part of the new Common Core Curriculum in the US. In an information-driven world, kids worldwide can benefit from knowing how to identify fact and opinion. Follow these steps:

1) If your class has as many dog-lovers (not to mention cat-lovers, gerbil owners, etc.) in it as my classes do, invite kids to bring in a photo of their pet or a pet they wish they owned.

2) Hold up a piece of notebook paper with a photo (like you see in my

Dogs, like Regina Rose, make the best pets! Fact or Opinion?

Dogs, like Regina Rose, make the best pets! Fact or Opinion?

blog pic here that shows sweet Regina Rose) taped to the top of it. Select a photo of a pet that you own now or have owned. If you don’t own a pet, find a photo of a cute dog to use.

3) Point out the title that you’ve written at the top of the paper. Make it read, Dogs Make the Best Pets!

4) Open a discussion with the class about whether your title is fact or opinion. Use the board to note kids’ comments. Explain that their comments can become a word bank (brainstorming) for writing a paper that expresses the opinion that dogs really do make the best pets.

5) Give students the option of changing their titles to suit their true opinions, if they don’t agree with your title, or of changing titles to suit another kind of pet photo they’ve brought to class. For example, some titles might read, Cats Make the Best Pets!

6) Ask kids to tape their pet photos to new sheets of notebook paper and begin writing their opinions about the best pet.

Try this activity with early learners: Little Lamb  Little lambs, like the toy one shown in my blog pic below,

"Let's learn about lambs."

“Let’s learn about lambs.”

aren’t only the subject of nursery rhymes and stories for young children.

Introduce a soft stuffed toy lamb to begin a simple science or social studies lesson with questions like:

  • Where do lambs live?
  • What do lambs like to eat?
  • What do people use lambs’ wool to make? (explaining that lambs get “haircuts” (shearing) a little bit like people do.

Try this activity to spark student interest in research – Finds about Famous Animals – Invite kids to use online and print resources to find out about animals that famous people (historical and current) have owned.

For example, research shows that Britain’s Queen Victoria wrote about her beloved Dachshund, named Dash, in her diary in 1833. England’s current Duke and Duchess of Cambridge recently brought home a Cocker Spaniel puppy, but the name is a mystery…which prompts another attentionology trick to share with your class…

…Ask the kids what name they’d give the new royal puppy IF they were invited to do so. Fun!

Check back with Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers again soon,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet

The Magic Hat – Mid-Week Focus – Good News!

November 28, 2012

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 GET THE GOOD NEWS OUT to the community ABOUT THE GOOD WORK TEACHERS ARE DOING with their students and schools!

Eileen Batson knows how to get an A+ for Good News Online!

Meet a good news expert, Eileen Batson, shown in my blog pic here.

Eileen works with individuals, including educators, business owners, authors and artists to help them be well-known, well thought of and well-remembered.

Eileen could easily design a bulletin board for teachers with the header: Get an A+ for Good News!

More about Eileen’s good work in a while. First let’s check out the pointers she shares below.

Eileen is this week’s guest blogger on Attentionology.

According to Eileen, sending good news benefits students as well as schools and communities. Teachers that have a little know-how, set aside a little time to prepare good school-related news and make their students aware of the effort, model pride in achievement and community-mindedness.

Eileen picks it up here: getting the word out about how creative and community-minded your students are sets them up with a strong foundation for their future.

While there are a variety of ways to control online presence, one of the best ways is through well-written and distributed news/press releases.

Here are some pointers for writing a better news/press release for publication online and in print media:

  1. Ensure that your story is clear and engaging. This is not the time to write “sales copy.”
  2. Your headline should be brief, accurately summarize the content of the news release, and be search engine-friendly.
  3. Write in the third person and use an active voice – Replace a passive phrase like “ABC Cupcakes has been selected for recognition for contributions to their community by the Cupcake Federation of America” with an active phrase such as “the Cupcake Federation of America selects ABC Cupcakes for recognition.”
  4. The first paragraph needs to answer the five key Ws: who, what, where, when and why.
  5. Paragraph # 2 and # 3 should contain additional details about your story, plus a quote from someone involved in the story who can explain what this news means to you, your students and school.
  6. Proofread! Proofread! Proofread! There is nothing like grammar and spelling mistakes to make you lose credibility. Here are a few tips:

• Read your release aloud. Rewrite sentences that are clumsy and difficult to get through.

• Have someone else read it. A second set of eyes can reveal what you missed.

• Read your story backward. It’s easy to miss errors when you read conventionally.

  1. Be sure to follow the correct format and include all contact info so journalists can follow-up with you.
  2. To get journalists’ correct contact information be sure to read their articles online and in print publications.
  3. Embed your releases when you send your emails to the journalists that you’ve selected to contact. Journalists have no time to open attachments.

To wrap up, releases can announce a range of news items, including scheduled events, personnel promotions, awards, accomplishments, etc. Reporters are more likely to consider a story idea if they first receive a press release.

Great information, Eileen; thank you! Eileen will be back with Get an A+ for Good News, Part 2.

As a publicist and owner of Batson Group Marketing and PR for 25+ years, Eileen Batson consults, holds workshops, and speaks on public relations, social networking, marketing and blogging.

She is currently on the Board of Directors for Women’s Power Networking and Co-Organizer for their Crabtree Chapter in Raleigh, NC (US). Martin Brossman and Anora McGaha selected her chapter on public relations for inclusion in their book Social Media for Business. Eileen lives in Raleigh with her husband, award-winning author and publisher Jon Batson. Visit Eileen at www.BGMPR.com

What will be under the magic hat in coming weeks?

What’ll be under the magic hat in coming weeks?

YOU can help decide by scrolling down and leaving a comment about topics you’d like The Magic Hat -Mid-Week Focus to address.

Check back with Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers again soon,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet

The Magic Hat – Mid-Week Focus – Helping Kids Cope

November 21, 2012

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 GIVE CHILDREN TOOLS AND TRICKS TO HELP THEM COPE WITH STRESSORS IN THEIR LIVES.   

 What’s under the magic hat today?

Attention-getting activities that can help individual students and/or the whole class cope when times are tough for any number of reasons.

Pause for a moment and picture the face of every student you teach. Name each child and as you do so, ask yourself how you’d describe him or her in two words…mostly happy or often sad.

My experience as a writing teacher tells me that many children carry unexpressed worries in their minds and hearts. When children pour out their negative feelings in a story or a poem they write with me, I can’t help but think that they need more opportunities to express their anxiety in guided forums.

When you sense that kids are struggling, consider setting aside a little time that day or week to play…

GAMES THAT CHASE WORRIES AWAY!

GAME 1: Shout It Out! I Feel Sad When _________________________. I Feel Happy When __________________________. 

Usually teachers remind kids to keep the noise level down. In this quick game, it’s the opposite; quick shout-outs are encouraged to help children release feelings and pent-up energy. Here’s how to play:

  • Tell the class that it’s time to play the Two-Minute Madness Game – Shout It Out!
  • Remind students that on the first count of 3, everyone says together, “I feel sad when,” and then shouts out a finish to the sentence. The big benefit here: Kids who may be afraid to express what makes them sad know that their voices may be drowned out in the shouting, but they’ll still have a chance to express sadness.
  • Announce that it’s time to chase sadness away for the day by shouting out, on the next count of 3, what makes you happy! Everyone says together, “I feel happy when,” and then shouts out a finish to this sentence.
  • End the game with you saying, “Class, give yourselves a round of applause! Now…1-2-3…eyes on me!”

GAME 2: A Few of My Favorite Things 

There’s a popular song that focuses on using the power of happy memories to chase away sadness. Put that concept to work in a game that lets students share personal information, including feelings, in small groups. Here’s how to play:

  • Announce that it’s time to play A Few of My Favorite Things.
  • Post pre-written or spontaneous sentences for kids to complete.  Limit the number of sentences you post to suit the amount of time you’ve set for this activity. Choose the following sentences for the game (and add others) to suit your class:
  • I have fun playing ________________________. ________________________ is my favorite food. My favorite animals are ________________________. The way they _______________________________ is funny to me. I love to visit ___________________________ for holidays. My favorite time is ____________________ on school days.
  • Move students into small groups around the classroom.
  • Instruct students to take turns completing the sentences out loud with the kids in their group.
  • Optional: Play this game as a writing activity. Invite volunteers to read their personal sentences aloud to the class. I always tell students that I love learning about them when I hear A Few of My Favorite Things. 
  • After a student reads aloud, ask the rest of of the class if they’ve learned something about their classmate that they didn’t already know. NOTE: This activity can help newcomers cope with being a new kid in school.

GAME 3: You Can Make a Difference! 

This game may empower students (at least for a time) that feel powerless because they live in worry-inducing circumstances. Here’s how to play:

  • Announce that you have a thought to share with the class that was written by someone unknown. Post or read aloud the thought:

If you think that something small

cannot make a difference, 

try going to sleep

with a mosquito in the room.

  • Tell the class that you’d like them to offer their thoughts about the thought you just shared. Begin with this, “You probably don’t want to be a pest (like a mosquito) but think about this…however “small” you are in age, you can make a difference in the world. You can be proud of what you do.” 
  • Open up a class discussion with this question: What would you like to do? A child might say, “I’d like to keep people from fighting with each other.” The benefit in this class activity is that students may learn, if nothing else, that they are not alone in their feelings – a key coping skill!

GAME 4: What’s Worry Like? What’s Joy Like?

Develop students’ abstract thinking skills by challenging them to describe worry and joy in terms of the five senses. Play this game in two parts, first focusing on worry and then on joy. Here’s how to play:

  • Cut out pictures of an eye, hand, mouth, nose and ear.
  • Glue the images to the left side of a large poster board, making a vertical column with space between each image.
  • Next to each image write the words Worry would ______ ( fill in look, feel, taste, smell, sound) like…
  • Draw a line below each beginning sentence for students to complete. (Optional: Ask students to find or draw pictures of the above body parts, glue them to a sheet of white copy paper, write the sentence starters, draw the blank lines and complete her/his own game page.)
  • On game day, hold up the poster board and announce that it’s time to play What’s Worry Like? What’s Joy Like?
  • Invite students to offer their ideas using the five senses to describe what worry is like. Write student suggestions on the blank lines.
  • Announce when you’ll host Game Day Part 2 – focus on joy.
  • On Game Day, Part 2, repeat the game steps, replacing the word worry with joy.

One of the best ways to help kids cope in difficult times is to end time together on a positive note; a note that offers hope!

Check back with Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers again soon,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet