Attention-Getting Words

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

Actually, that welcome back extends to me…didn’t post my weekly blog last Monday (and I missed doing so!) because I had a family EMERGENCY.

Now, there’s a word that catches anyone’s attention, don’t you agree…EMERGENCY. Not a word to be taken lightly, not a word to be overused, but an attention-getting word for sure.

Think back to your own personal and professional emergencies, school-related or not. Most, if not all teachers have been in the middle of a lesson when some emergency occurred. I remember one incident when I was a guest writer at a school in a town when a chemical explosion blew up an agricultural supply operation and the town’s security along with it. The word EMERGENCY flashed on computer laptops in every class. My host teacher scribbled the word on a sticky note and gave it to me, just as I was helping students “paint pictures using words.” Not much word paint needed for EMERGENCY. I remember the heat of fear rising within me. “Stay calm” was the unspoken message she relayed along with the sickening sticky note. The agricultural supply operation was housed less than a mile from school. When I left class, as scheduled, it was the close of the teaching day for me but not for everyone else in school and as I drove away from the town to go home I kept hearing that word, EMERGENCY.

Fast forward to the first week of this month, as I was calming down after the immediacy of my own family emergency had passed, I met a man who deals with the aftermath of emergencies all the time. His name is Ben Levitan. He’s a wireless cellular telecommunications expert and he serves as an expert witness in court cases that involve driving while cell-phone impaired.

Sidenote: Ben told me and I’ve experienced this first-hand…high school teachers have shared their frustration with him about students coming to class with all kinds of aps except the aptitude for learning! Yes, I’ve taught high school as well as middle school and K – 5 classes, and you can tell when ear buds close pre-teen and teenage ears from learning and cell phones relay answers to test questions. We won’t go further into the upper grade experiences, except to say that helping kids in grades K – 5 to gain and maintain attention-ology skills may help counter the tune-out trends that can negatively impact their later years.

So, back to Ben, the wireless wizard…He’s incredible to listen to…he cites scientific research that has introduced a new attention-getting word – HALF-ALOGUE.

A “half-alogue” is like a dialogue but you only hear half of it. For example, if you’re driving with a passenger who makes a cell phone call or receives one while you’re on the road, you will hear a “half-alogue.” Talk about attention-ology for K – 5 teachers…I’ve taught in classrooms where the classroom phone rings smack in the middle of my teaching. Result: Students are learning in “half-alogues.”

Ben has more to share about the distractions related to what he would call risky cell-phone use, but we’ll save that for later. Until then let me share what Ben wrote to me recently. “For the K – 5 crowd, they are going to grow up with electronic gizmo’s. Surely, they already are asking their parents for phones. I think they have to be taught early that these gizmo’s are tools and not a substitute for talking to people. They actually take their attention away from what’s going on around them.”

Here’s another attention-getting word…STOP…which is what I’ll do here until next week. Talk with you then.

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

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: Students continue to use lackluster verbs in their writing.

Solution: Show toy cars and pretend to make them zip across a page, telling the class that good writing includes action words (verbs) that have "zip." Ask the class for examples of "zippy" verbs like zoom, race, flash, rush, etc.

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