International Festival of Attention-Grabbers – Turkey

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

Globe-trotting doesn’t require an airplane ticket, not if you check your local convention options and find an International Festival to visit like I did this past weekend.

Most festival-goers had their sights set on culinary treats, crafts, music and dance performances from around the world. My focus was meeting festival presenters who attended elementary school in countries other than the United States.

American teachers’ observations about trends in education and my own experience working with thousands of K – 5 kids in the US are the foundation of my blog. But, world news suggests that catching and keeping students’ attention is a growing challenge in many developed nations. 

So, it makes sense to learn about and share strategies that teachers use in countries like Turkey – featured country in this blog – the first in my International Festival of Attention-Grabbers series. Passport ready? It’s time to visit Turkey!

It's time to travel the world!

GIVE A CALENDAR QUIZ – Dr. Ozturk, a delightful dark-haired woman with quick brown eyes, clearly remembers her second and third grade teacher, Mr. Bozturk in Istanbul, Turkey. When she was an elementary school girl in the 1960’s, Mr. Bozturk began each school day with a barrage of questions that he shot out when he first entered the classroom. 

Dr. Ozturk describes Mr. Bozturk’s attention-ology trick as a Calendar Quiz. “What day is today?” he would begin, his eyes set on a student in the back of the room. Turning to another kid he would ask, “What number day in the week is today?” Then Mr. Bozturk would demand a third child to reply to the question, “What month are we in?” “How many days are in this month?” The quiz continued every morning. “Which season is this?” Mr. Bozturk would ask. Finally, he would demand a student to answer the question, “What number month is this month in the season?”

Mr. Bozturk’s Calendar Quiz sent an unmistakable message…it’s time to learn!

Dr. Ozturk likes to point out that in addition to “bringing the students into the present to begin the school day,” Mr. Bozturk’s Calendar Quiz also served as a math lesson with the inclusion of students counting numbers.

“When I was a student in Turkey,” Dr. Ozturk recalls, ” hearing your name called while simultaneously being told to be quiet was considered to be humiliating.” “Teachers were strict; that was accepted practice.” “But,” she muses, “because of Mr. Bozturk’s strictness, I learned a lot and went on to become an electrical engineer and university professor.” Dr. Ozturk says that she’s been waiting a long time to tell the story of the remarkable Mr. Bozturk and his effective attention-getting quiz!

MAKE UP A TIME QUIZ FOR YOUR CLASS – Glance back at my blog pic above and you’ll see a simple cardboard clock with moveable hands – a common tool to help children learn how to tell time. Why not also add a clock to your bag of attention-ology tools and tricks?

You can use a clock in a time quiz to do as Mr. Bozturk did, bring your students into the present at the beginning of the school day. When you hold up the clock like I’m doing in my blog pic, you’ll create a focal point for your kids’ attention. Clock in hand in front of your class, fire off questions related to time and date until you have all students’ eyes on you, ready for your first lesson.

SET UP YOUR OWN INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL – You may have discovered as I have that elementary school students love to travel the world through any means available to them. Inviting children to be part of your own classroom international festival can be as easy as sharing stories from around the world. Sources abound in libraries, bookstores and online. Dr. Ozturk gave me a funny short story from Turkey that your class might enjoy…

It’s titled Playing the Saz. All you need to tell it is a print out of my blog and any stringed instrument – an attention-getter itself.  Playing the Saz is about a popular Turkish character named Hodja, an old man with a white mustache and beard who wears a red coat and a giant white and red turban. Here’s how the story goes…

One day Hodja’s friends handed him a saz, a stringed musical instrument like this one (hold yours up for the class to see), and asked him to play a song. Hodja was not musically inclined but nevertheless took the instrument in his hands, placed his index finger on one of the frets and started strumming. 

“Is that how you play the saz?” complained his friends. Saz players play different notes by moving their fingers up and down the neck. You are playing a single note!

Hodja laughs, “They are moving their fingers like that because they are looking for this note. I have already found it!”

Finding and sharing effective resources to help students stay on task and become well-educated citizens of the world – that’s a goal of Attention-ology for K – 5 Teachers.

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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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."

Related Posts: Let "Listen Star" Work Magic for You