Attention-Getting Ties with Twitter

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

No way can teachers keep up with all that’s buzzing on worldwide social media and websites, but web networks can be a cool source of ideas for catching and keeping kids’ attention.

I know you may be thinking…Twitter isn’t for the young set. Maybe some fifth graders access social media sites themselves, but kindergarteners – no way. Okay, your students might not be allowed to go on social media sites themselves at school or at home but they sure do have ears to hear all the chatter that Twitter, etc. generate. 

Why not “cash in” on attention-getting ties with Twitter, etc! 

For example, Mia, the cobra who was recently lost and fortunately found at the Bronx Zoo in New York City was a tweet sensation worldwide. The face of a baby snake look-alike was apparently so cute to so many web browsing folks that the Bronx Zoo’s website created a naming contest for the Egyptian heiress (heir of poisonous fangs!) Cobra Mia’s name, in case you haven’t heard, stands for “missing in action.”

Well, the reason I mention Mia is that I’ve successfully tested a new attention-ology trick that I designed around Mia and I’m sharing it here. 

Teachers who strive to be creative (it does take some extra energy) are never missing in action and we rarely miss an opportunity to act on worldwide sensations that can be adapted for learning goals.

So there was Mia, the cobra, all over the news a week or two ago. Around the same time I stopped by a dollar store (one of my favorite shopping spots for teaching resources) to buy supplies for an upcoming school program. My eyes were drawn to a snake mask sitting in a bin. Saw the mask and my mind went into high gear. The mask was child size and made of blue felt with a coil design. Instantly I pictured one of my students in the mask acting out a poem I would write about a snake.

The plan took shape in no time. I wrote (whipped up is more like it) and printed a poem titled, “Blue Snake Blues” and tucked the poem and the snake mask into a colorful party bag. Best part…just before pulling the mask and poem from the bag during my program I asked the class of first graders if anyone had heard about a snake named Mia who’d been lost and found at a New York zoo. You guessed it…young hands waved in the air and I knew that the children had heard an adult talking about the slithering Web superstar.

I invited a boy to come up to what I call “center stage” in every classroom. He slipped the mask on and everyone laughed. My instruction to him was simple: please act out what the poem says. He did so with zest. Of course I invited his classmates to join in at appropriate parts of the poem. The snake mask trick was a hit!

Good news…you can work this teaching tool and trick into any part of your curriculum with any kind of mask. It’s obviously important that your poem relate to the mask image but you don’t have to be a published poet to write short rhymes that get the job done.

In case you happen on a snake mask and want to use “Blue Snake Blues,” here’s my whipped up poem in three short stanzas…

Look everyone

It’s a slithering snake,

All coiled up,

What shape does it make?


Blue snake turns on a path,

Ready to strike,

Be careful of snakes

When you take a hike!


Let’s listen to snake,

Psss, psss, psss, is his sound,

Can you psss, psss, psss,

Like a snake on the ground?

Keep an eye and ear out for current stories capturing worldwide attention on Twitter and other sources. You’ll discover a goldmine of nuggets that you can adopt and adapt for teaching.

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

Talk with you next week,

Barbara The Lovable Poet

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Posted in Attentionology for K-5 Teachers
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.
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