Spotlight on Learning with The Attentionology Traveler

Hi and welcome back to Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers!

Here we go; another school/work week’s begun. Is January flying by for you like it is for me? Just since last Monday, The Attentionology Traveler has

a world of ideas at your fingertips!

a world of ideas at your fingertips!

been trekking again, on the lookout for more ideas to share with educators challenged with catching and keeping kids’ attention.


I was recently digging through some of my mother’s things in a very old dark closet.

I paused to “fetch” a flashlight for much improved vision and another attentionology trick flashed in my mind…

Spotlight on Learning – How cool it would be to bring a flashlight to class and shine the handy tool on students’ excellent work, I thought.

I can picture myself (and maybe you) walking around the room while kids are busy writing or doing math, or completing a spelling test, or…whatever you like.

Suddenly, (at an appropriate time, so as not to hinder rather than help

"Spotlight on good work!"

“Spotlight on good work!”

the learning process) I’d turn on the flashlight and spot it on a student’s paper, like you see in my blog pic here.

Then I’d shout out  “Spotlight on good work! Well done _______________(student’s name here).” 

I’d quickly turn the flashlight, still on, towards the classroom clock and announce, “Spot on the clock, we still have ____ minutes more for this activity. Let’s all get back to work.”

Obviously, a flashlight’s yellowish glow shows up best in the dark, but you can still draw attention to a spot with a flashlight in a room that is fairly well-lit. Try it!


Let’s keep the spotlight on learning with my second discovery, the poster you see in my blog pic below that I found on a wall of a fourth grade classroom.

A poster with smart advice discovered by The Attentionology Traveler

A poster with smart advice discovered by The Attentionology Traveler

Learn To Think…Think To Learn.

Help students internalize the importance of this process by making personal posters with the same advice to hang up at home.

Invite kids to add more color to the poster with print and/or images that connect to the message.

Suggest that students post this learning prompt on a wall near where they do homework.

Home and school…how can teachers make stronger connections between the two, benefiting everyone in a school community? Read on…


I reread the pledge (see below) this past week when I revisited the fifth grade teacher’s class where I first found it.

Strengthen your connection between your school and students’ homes by sending home copies of this pledge or one you use. Send along a note to parents showing your appreciation of their child’s pledge and a request that they contact you to confirm that they’ve read the pledge (and hopefully discussed it with their child.)

I first published the pledge, Students’ Pledge – Help Me! in my Attentionology post of 08/29/12. I’ve revised the title in today’s post. (Note that the first line of the pledge features curiosity, the focus of last Wednesday’s Attentionology The Magic Hat post.)


Help me to be curious about the world around me.

Help me to be prepared for the challenges I face today.

Help me to be open to difficult tasks.

Help me to be determined to complete my work.

Help me to be responsible in all I do.

Help me to accept people’s differences.

Help me to be kind in my thoughts and words.

Help me to be aware of my talents.

Help me to be myself and be the best that I can be!

The 08/29/12 post includes a suggestion to design a bulletin board with the Students’ Pledge at the center. Got some new tricks for you today…

…Help students live into the promise of the pledge.

Wow, think about the power of that challenge…it means that we as teachers are asking students to not just write a pledge or say it aloud, we want them to fulfill it, to live it!

I’m reminded of the connection between this challenge and the English expression, “Actions speak louder than words.” Ever use a similar sentence with your kids? I have, as a teacher and a parent.

Helping students live into the nine lines of the pledge above, all of which require staying focused and on task, obviously takes way more time than simply posting the pledge on a bulletin board, as valuable as that can be. What to do? Structure your plan to suit your curriculum over a set time period. Follow this basic outline:

  1. Introduce the Students’ Pledge and post it in your classroom.
  2. Ask students to make the pledge aloud and/or sign the posted pledge.
  3. Identify, with your class’ input, the skills that are required to fulfill each “line item” of the pledge.
  4. Take nothing for granted. Facilitate class discussions about what it takes to be curious; be prepared for challenges; be open to difficult tasks; complete work; be responsible; accept people’s differences; be kind; be aware of personal talents; be the best possible.
  5. Help students personalize the pledge by building the skills, including computer literacy, that relate to their interests and goals to live into the promises they’ve made.


What does it take to build skills to live into a students' pledge?

What does it take to build skills to live into a students’ pledge?

When your students have access to supervised computer use, like the children in my blog pic here, invite them to Google Search the key words in each of the nine lines of the Students’ Pledge, one at a time.

For example, a search of the words be responsible resulted in how-to tips on developing responsibility, and bumble bee graphics suitable for a classroom bulletin board about responsibility.

Another attentionology idea jackpot! – Catch kids’ attention by assigning students to use online resources related to the Students’ Pledge to design a series of bulletin boards, like one with the header, Bee Responsible.

If you work with younger kids, you may prefer to create your own bulletin boards. You can adjust the language in the Students’ Pledge to be grade-level appropriate to your students.

Shining the spotlight on learning puts teachers at center stage, conducting classes like a maestro with an orchestra. Motivated kids will glow in the light and learn to live into their Students’ Pledge.

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

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Posted in Attentionology for K-5 Teachers, The Attentionology Traveler
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!"

Related Posts: Show Off "The Big E"