Posts Tagged ‘puzzles’

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.)


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


Creative Repetition Gets Attention

May 3, 2010

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

Will Richardson, author of Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms (Corwin Press) asserts that thousands of teachers use technologies, including Blogs, to create forums for interactive learning.

I know of several fifth grade teachers, for example, who write blogs that challenge their students to dig deeper into class assignments by asking  questions that require additional research to answer. Students who do extra work  get extra credit.

Online, of course, any blog is open to a worldwide audience, but the teachers I know who have created blogs are writing to get the attention of their own students.  They post their blog addresses in their classrooms on the blackboard or white board.  If they also have a website, teacher bloggers include eye-catching links on both sites and they include their blog addresses at the close of e-mail messages they send to parents.

In other words, teacher bloggers post and repeat their online addresses with creative graphics and standout fonts to get the attention of their target audiences.

Technology options for interactive learning and communication aren’t limited to blogs, websites and e-mails.  Richardson identifies six additional technologies in what he calls, “the teacher’s toolbox” that “promise to change the way we teach and learn.” These include Wikis; Rich Site Summary (RSS); Aggregators; Social Bookmarking; Online Photo Galleries and Audio/video-casting.

Whooa! Even teachers who are recent graduates of schools of education may need tutorials to master the Read/Write Web. Educators who began their careers during the Web’s early years or before it was even born may find the prospect of learning how to use these technologies somewhat daunting.

A big motivation to embrace some or all of tools in the Read/Write Web is that the content and graphics teachers write and create for one tool can be transported easily to another.

Let’s say, for example, that you want to help fifth grade students focus on the key points of a historical document in your Social Studies curriculum. You can format the key points in a post on your blog and copy the post to your website, encouraging students to visit both. You may also invite them to interact with the information by posting comments.

Not technology savvy and maybe not a techie wannabe? No problem! There are plenty of ways to focus student attention on learning with creative repetition that’s technology-free.  Let’s go back to the Social Studies lesson…

Here are a few tech-free tricks to try:

  • Make a colorful poster with the key points of the historical document.
  • Break up the key points into pieces that students can collect in a classroom scavenger hunt.
  • Copy the poster, cut it into puzzle pieces and invite students to put the puzzle together.

There’s no question that creative repetition gets attention and helps children master information and skills.

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

Talk with you next week,

BarbaraThe Lovable Poet