Adapt Pop Culture for Attention

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

When I started writing this blog back in March, 2010, I made a promise to the elementary educators and others who work with elementary school-age children – my potential blog readers – that the tools and tricks I would offer would NOT be technology-dependent.

That’s a little ironic, I realize, because here we are on the worldwide web – totally dependent on technology!

Still, educators and others who work with K – 5 children  know that many kids in places around the world, even today as we near the eve of 2011, have limited or no access to technology.   For that matter, many teachers’ access to technology is limited, as well.  So, I made a promise to write my blog taking into account the impact of technology on our 21st century world but presenting attention-ology that is NOT technology dependent.

With that in mind, this week’s blog features adaptations to pop culture that can help teachers catch and keep K – 5 students’ attention. I’ll “pop” a few ideas and you can pick and choose what you like. 

Please be mindful that you may have to adapt the adaptations to suit your grade level. I also know that it’s important to protect children from the potential dangers of the Internet. But the language of the worldwide web, the language itself, opens up all kinds of opportunity for attention-ology!

For example, fifth grade students may get a kick out of your introduction of MY PLACE DOT CALM in class.  They very likely have siblings who participate in the web-based phenomenon with a similar name. MY PLACE DOT CALM is a special space in your classroom or instructional area where students go via imagination or actual seating relocation to get quiet and ready to listen and learn. You can use MY PLACE DOT CALM as an incentive to prepare for individual classwork. If a student seems distracted or is distracting others, suggest that he or she visit MY PLACE DOT CALM to prepare for focused study time. This trick uses the power of words.

I talk with all of my students about “word power” and I encourage the use of words that have onomatopoeia, that is, words that sound like what they mean. The word “calm” is one of those words. You’ll get a good response, I think, if you invite kids to picture “calm” when you introduce MY PLACE DOT CALM. Why? Because “calm” is so close to “com” and you’re connecting with pop culture!

Here’s another trick that connects to the growing popularity of another web-based communication tool:  LET’S GIVE A SHOUT OUT TO (INSERT STUDENT’S NAME HERE)! You can introduce this attention-getting trick in a couple of ways. First, you can surprise your class by simply shouting out your “shout out” unexpectedly one morning or afternoon when you see a student focusing on class work for an unusually good length of time.  Or, you can announce to the class that starting next week, you’ll be on the lookout for students who deserve and will receive “shout outs” for good attention.

Obviously, tricks like these hold their effectiveness when not overdone. This is a reminder that one of the keys to catching and keeping K – 5 students’ attention in the world today is to change up, mix up, match up, play up, do up all kinds of tools and tricks to keep children interested and on task.

Every nation of the world has its pop culture sensations. Creating attention-ology adaptations to the pop culture your students know can help you reach your educational goals for their benefit.

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

Talk with you next week,

BarbaraThe Lovable Poet

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Barbara Cleary has been serving as a resource to hundreds of educators for more than 25 years. An award-winning writer, producer, teacher, and trainer, Barbara’s focus is on offering easy, fun tools and tricks that support K-5 curricula and assist teachers with classroom management.
Quick tips for common classroom conundrums: K-5
Situation: Young students are getting noisy while you’re trying to teach.

Solution: Hold up "Listen Star," a toy magic wand that you’ve designated to be a cue for quiet. Tell the class, "When you see our friend, 'Listen Star' dance across the classroom sky, that’s your signal to HUSH for a moment."

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