The Magic Hat – Mid-Week Focus – Back-Up Plans

Hats off to teachers…it’s time for Mid-Week Focus!

Mid-Week Focus is all about quick and easy ways to approach teaching to keep kids on task in any instructional setting.

Let’s share insight and practical ideas. Let’s blend fun with function, and let’s ALWAYS HAVE A BACK-UP PLAN. We need to have tools and tricks “up our sleeve” to catch and keep kids’ attention when unexpected disruptions occur.

Bet you’ve experienced one or more of the following scenarios on a school day…

Δ Computer goes down just when you’re about to show a video on the Prometheus or Smart Board. “How smart is that Smart Board now,” you mutter to yourself.

Δ Rain starts pouring five minutes before recess, canceling your class’ much-needed outdoor break on test-day.

Δ Field trip gets cancelled because the bus broke down.

Δ Storms in your vicinity cause a power outage.

Yikes…it’s no wonder that teachers need back-up plans!

Say it with me,”HIGH-FIVE FOR PLAN B!”

High-five for Plan B! When disruptions occur during a school day, teachers are challenged with preventing a lot of lost instructional time.

When something unexpected happens, you can immediately put your students on notice that you have a back-up plan. Your attentionology trick says: “stay focused.”

  • Hold up a cut-out hand, like you see in my blog pic here, to send the high-five message. Or simply hold up your hand and ask everyone to join you in a high-five for Plan B! Say those words with commanding enthusiasm. You’re advising the class to get ready for an alternate activity.

Go Haiku-Hiking – This attentionology trick is especially effective when outdoor recess or a field trip is cancelled. Here’s how it works…

  • Turn disappointment into opportunity. (Isn’t that what back-up plans are!) Tell the class that you have a special way to “head outdoors.” Watch for questioning eyes on you.
  • Write Let’s Go Haiku-Hiking! on the board, like you see in my blog pic below.

    “Let’s go Haiku Hiking!”

  • Ask the class to watch you write a haiku in 3 lines; write: The kitten/Holds down a leaf/For a moment. (Note that the line breaks are indicated with a  slash mark.) English-speaking students that are familiar with haiku may tell you that your poem should have a 5-7-5 syllable structure.
  • Explain that the haiku you just posted was first written over 1,000 years ago in Japanese characters, not letters of the English alphabet, by a Japanese poet named Issa. No 5-7-5 syllable structure. Tell the class that you’re giving them permission to be free with syllables, as long as they write haiku poems in only 3 lines.
  • What to haiku-hike and write about? Here’s where you can make a connection with the cancelled activity.
  • Let’s say, for example, that your class was set to enjoy a field trip to a nearby nature center. Just like magic, you can go there with imagination!
  • Invite students to write haiku poems about what they might have seen at the center or wish they would find there. Haiku-hiking poems might read something like mine below…

The black snake/Slithers under/A moss-covered rock

Butterflies dance/Flower to flower/At the nature center

Sunshine washes softly/On green leaves/In the tree canopy

Add some fun to your Haiku Hiking. Tell students that after they (pretend to) head outdoors you’ll all “meet up at the campground.” The “campground” is simply a center space in your classroom. When you “meet up” distribute marshmallows. No need for toasting; let’s eat!

Campground Poetry Reading – Invite student volunteers to entertain the class by sharing haiku poems they’ve written on their imaginary hikes.

At first glance, having to resort to a back-up plan may be “a bummer.”  Remember what the American poet, Emily Dickinson, wrote…Dwell in Possibilities!

Forced (for whatever reason) implementation of back-up plans in school teaches kids valuable skills:

  1. be flexible
  2. stay focused no matter what occurs
  3. use critical thinking to assess and manage situations
  4. travel with imagination
  5. enjoy life, rain or shine

Stop by next Wednesday for more Mid-Week Focus. On Monday Attentionology will be back with more magic.

All the best,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet

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Posted in Attentionology for K-5 Teachers, Mid-Week Focus
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 are acting sluggish in class.

Solution: Show "The BIG E," for ENERGY, an enlarged letter E (or other first letter for the word energy in your alphabet), available in craft stores. Remind the class that energy is a must-have item to get good work done. Tell the class to show you "The BIG E!"

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