Posts Tagged ‘Visual’

I Spy a Good Listener!

July 12, 2010

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

You may have heard the old Chinese proverb that roughly translates in English to, “We hear and we forget; we see and we remember; we do and we understand.” I’m of  a mind that this proverb has merit for teaching, especially if one considers that DOING almost always includes hearing and seeing.

I Spy a Good Listener is an activity you can try in your instructional setting that focuses on sight, but the attention-getting aspect of this trick is all about the ACT of looking to find students who are paying attention to you, the teacher.

If you teach children in grades K – 2 and like this idea, I recommend using a large magnifying glass on a long handle to “ACT-centuate” your “spying.” (Many “dollar stores,” at least in the U.S., sell inexpensive plastic magnifying glasses designed for use with children.)

Here’s how to begin the I Spy trick: Hold up the magnifying glass and in your best detective voice announce, “Boys and girls, I’m looking to spy a good listener.” Move around the classroom as you look into the magnifier and lean toward students who readily respond to you in a positive way.

If you want to take this activity a step further, single out the students who are showing excellent listening skills. For example, you can note to the class that Sean and Maria are paying close attention by following your movement around the classroom. Test students’ listening skills by asking them to repeat a short rhyme, for example, if you’re using this trick as part of a language arts activity.

Let your class know that there will be other opportunties to “play” I Spy a Good Listener! In fact, on another day, you may catch and keep your students’ attention just before you begin a lesson simply by holding up your magnifying glass for all to see and repeating your goal of spotting good listeners. The magnifying glass can become an attention-getting signal for your students.

One of the reasons this teaching trick has a high success rate is that magnifying glasses are magical to children (as well as to some adults). They are one of the oldest devices used to improve sight. Many historians agree that it was the Romans who discovered magnifying glass in the first century, A.D. Research suggests that the Romans found that glass that was thicker in the center and thinner around the outer edges magnified an object being observed. Modern magnifying glasses are double convex lenses that make objects appear larger than they are. If you’d like to tie this teaching trick to an early years science lesson, you may want to explain to your class that early magnifying glasses led to modern-day microscopes.

For older students, the concept of getting a closer look at something through magnification may lead nicely into an activity that focuses on critical thinking – a much-needed skill for all 21st century students.

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

Talk with you next week,

BarbaraThe 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