Hi and welcome back to Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers!
How many kids in your class love sports? I’m guessing the numbers are “off the chart.”
Sports seasons come and go – basketball, tennis, football, soccer, for example – but thanks to big and little screens most everywhere, fans can find their favorite games, if not live, then pre-recorded.
Kids, of course, don’t just like to watch from the sidelines; they want to play!
Teachers can “cash in” on kids’ passion for sports by turning a classroom into team space. The benefit? Even kids that aren’t “sports oriented” enjoy being part of a team.
GAME PLAN – Try this…hold up a lesson plan book, like you see in my blog pic here, and tell your class to look again; “this isn’t JUST a lesson planner, this is a PLAY BOOK.”
Explain what you mean this way: “Oh we’re not talking about play as in ‘let’s play hide and go seek;’ we’re talking about our GAME PLAN to get good work done.”
CALL YOUR TEAM TOGETHER – Try this…don’t just post the schedule for the day on the board and assume that students will read it and be prepared to do good work.
Call your “team” together at the start of the day and briefly review the schedule aloud. Describe each activity as a “play of the day” and catch the attention of sports fans in your class.
Get students excited about what you have planned by making personal connections with different subjects. For example, as you point to the time slot for reading that day, mention how many kids have recently improved their reading skills, becoming stronger members of your class reading “team.” “Way to go, team!” Tell the kids, like a coach would say, how much you appreciate students’ efforts.
Think about coaches you’ve watched work in any sport with athletes of all ages, sizes and skill levels. Borrow from successful coaches’ playbooks to coach, teach and reach your students.
ON YOUR MARK, GET SET, GO! – Coaches blow whistles to turn heads their way. You may not need a whistle as an attention-getting tool in a space the size of your classroom, but you might try using a timer like Alice Osborn, the teacher in my blog pic below, does when she gives students writing prompts to use in timed writing exercises.
TIMED WRITING EXERCISES – Create handouts ahead of timer that present the writing prompt or prompts that students will use as story-starters.
Be sure that students have adequate notebook paper and pencils at hand before you announce that timed writing is about to begin.
Set a kitchen time (an attentionology tool itself) for the number of minutes you plan to allow for writing (Alice usually goes for 10-minutes).
Cue the class with a strong coach-like voice, “Team, on your mark, get set, go!”
Pencils poised with purpose, like you see in my blog pic here, students will begin to write furiously to finish a good start before the timer buzzes.
Alice reports that kids like the structure of a countdown clock.
SPORTS MEDIA SHOWTIME – Teachers that have in-class access to the Internet can inspire students to achieve by showing video clips of interviews with sports personalities that model the ability to focus and stay on task, as well as the character traits teachers want to develop in their students.
Sharing sports-related video clips and interesting information requires some advance preparation. If you like this attentionology trick, one place to start is to Google Schedule World _______________ (type in the sport here).
For example, I researched Tennis for this post and discovered that in the month of January, 2013 alone, members of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) – tennis players from around the world – will play in Australia, New Zealand, India, Qatar, France, Croatia and Chile. That’s just for the month of January!
Check out the ITF schedule for February and you (and your students) can travel (at least through imagination) to many additional countries.
MORE WORLD CONNECTIONS – Invite older elementary school students to research sports schedules on their own, choosing games that interest them most. These assignments can offer quick lessons in world geography, languages, math (keeping score) and other core subjects.
Here’s an idea…Challenge kids to create their own sports-centered lesson plans to present to their class “teammates!”
ACTION-PACKED – If you’ve ever watched football on TV you’ve heard sports announcers cut into commentary to advise viewers, “There’s the snap; here’s the play action…and…” No question…action-packed games catch and keep the attention.
One of my students, 10-year old Jon Eubanks, captured the action of skating in a poem he wrote with me.
Skating takes your worries away, you’re never in a hurry,
you’re one task only, your mind is set, you let everything go,
sweat trickles down your face, you fly by at a steady pace,
skating all through town with your friends, what could be better.
One of the best ways to coach, teach, reach, is to recognize kids’ passion for sports, passion like Jon showed in his skating poem above. When we offer opportunities for students to express their sports passions in class work we become coach-like teachers, building core skills and character.
Successful coaches command attention by forming strong emotional bonds with their players as they guide them with specific strategies to win games. Winning teachers do the same, generating excitement for the learning process to achieve academic goals.
Remember, you don’t need to be a magician to work magic in any instructional setting!
Talk with you again soon,
Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet