Attention-ology Survey

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

I’ve been conducting research among elementary school teachers and administrators related to the premise of this blog…catching and keeping students’ attention in instructional settings is a critical challenge that grows each year.

All of the responses to my questionnaire have been made independently but I thought it would be interesting to view them collectively. I’m sharing a synopsis here with you now.

One of the questionnaires that I’ve circulated to date includes these first three questions:

1) Do you agree that gaining and holding students’ attention in instructional settings has become more difficult each year you have worked in education?

Overwhelming response: YES!

2) If you answered yes to Question # 1, what in a nutshell do you think is causing students’ lack of ability to pay attention, to stay focused on learning?

The majority of responses to this question identify television and video games as a negative influence on children. More specifically, many teachers who’ve responded to my attention-ology survey say that television and video games overstimulate their students, rendering them incapable of staying focused on lessons for significant amounts of time.

Explained another way, one teacher wrote that “students are too used to instant gratification due to the tech age they were born into. If I can’t talk or move fast enough – I lose them.” Talk about challenges…educators are forced to position themselves as entertainers to  meet the demands of tech age children…but entertain we can if we employ tools and tricks of the NEW teacher’s trade. 

The BIG trick (and this is my thinking, not as much that of the respondents to my research to date) is to train ourselves as teachers to BECOME a new kind of educator, one equipped with “tools and tricks” that are as integral to our teaching as a hard drive is to a computer. Here me talk…I’m not at all a techie wizard, but I do know how wizardry works in the classroom. The power is for the teacher’s taking if we adopt a mindset that suits 2011! It’s demanding, it can be tiring, but I believe that this is the challenge that we must embrace if we want our students to be successful as they work their way from kindergarten through fifth grade and on into middle school and the years ahead.

We’ll share more of the responses to question # 2 in a future blog. For now, let’s jump to…

3) In brief, what strategies currently work best for you to keep students on task?

The answers to this vary with all the creativity and affection anyone can feel in the best of elementary classrooms everywhere. One teacher wrote, “I use the word, ‘hot dog,’ and they have to respond, ‘mustard,’ and stop what they are doing and put their focus on me. It works every time! I also incorporate physical movement when I can into lessons.”

Surely every nation of the world has a national food like hot dogs that is best served with a condiment like mustard. Can’t you just hear teachers in Germany calling out “bratwurst” waiting for students to reply “sauerkraut!” and others around the globe calling out favorite foods to gain students’ attention!

I have many more answers to question # 3 to share with you in another blog. No question, creative instructional management is its own tool and trick to catch and keep K – 5 students’ attention.

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: 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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