Hi and welcome back to Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers!
The Attentionology Traveler is packed and ready to go with new trips and teaching tricks to share with you in 2013.
One of my most favorite, classroom-tested, attention-getting activities for inspiring kids to write stories and/or poems is a travel adventure itself…
…I invite students to name and focus their writing on the “most beautiful place in the world!”
It’s “Travel Time.” Kids LOVE this activity! Here’s how it unfolds…
I hold up a small plastic (place mat) world map, like you see in my blog pics above and below. I tell the class – with a big smile on my face – “when the world is only this big, I can carry it with me wherever I go.”
I ask for a show of hands from students that have “ever traveled somewhere special to you.”
Hands fly; I call on a few students to say where they’ve been.
(It’s interesting to note that in many classes, the teacher whose room I’m visiting has never asked about her/his students’ travel experiences, and she/he seems surprised by the information I uncover about the students with this learning process.)
Engaging students and teachers in my role of The Attentionology Traveler, I mention that sharing travel experiences, like we’re doing together, is a great way to get to know someone of any age.
“Travel Time” also helps kids gain a greater appreciation of our world community.
Depending on your grade level, you can also use “Travel Time” to reinforce learning about spatial concepts. For example, I always ask, “Has anyone in this class ever traveled somewhere way far away?” Of course, distance is relative to kids’ personal experiences, but I can see the “wheels turning” in their minds as they think about the question. “Travel Time” keeps kids focused and on task.
Realizing that some students, for any number of reasons, haven’t had the opportunity to travel, I always include another spatial concept during “Travel Time” – one that has strong emotional ties, too. Using a strong voice I say these words, “Sometimes the most beautiful place in the world is no further away than our very own space at home.” I continue this possibility, saying, “No matter how big or small that space may be, you might think that it’s the most beautiful place of all!”
“Travel Time” doesn’t end with this concept. I often continue preparing the class for writing time by holding up a poster of a sunset, like you see in my blog pic below.
“Where was this sunset?” I ask the class.
“Was it in Belize?” I might add – offering kids a quick “taste a country” (and a true or false option for older kids.*)
1) Connect writing with world awareness, geography and science (explaining, for example, that Belize is a beautiful Central American country of 200 islands, bordered on the east by the Barrier Reef in the Caribbean Sea.)
2) Connect with other cultures, giving my classes potential pen pals via e-mail to develop writing and technology skills (explaining, again for example, that Belize is where some children go to La Isla Bonita (Spanish for The Beautiful Island) Elementary School in San Pedro Town on Ambergris Caye, Belize’s largest island.)
So, when I ask kids where they think the sunset pic was taken, hands fly again and every student offers a different answer.
“Ah ha…that’s it!” I reply, and then I say, “Listen to this…If we all use the same title – The Most Beautiful Place – for our stories or poems, I bet we’ll find that everyone’s writing is different!”
“Why?” I elaborate on my assertion. “Because, what’s the most beautiful place to you (I point in the direction of one side of the classroom) is different from what’s most beautiful to you.” (I point to the other side of the room).
By now the kids are totally motivated to start their stories or poems! We “travel” into our private quiet writing zones and the pencils begin to fly across papers. It’s very cool to see kids so excited about writing; “Travel Time” is the ticket.
Teachers with a curriculum that includes helping students learn to differentiate between fact and opinion can use this writing activity to show opinion. “In my opinion, the most beautiful place in the world is __________________________________ and here’s why __________________________________ ” (defending opinion).
Note: Teachers of K – 2 kids can invite students to draw a picture of, instead of writing about, their most beautiful place and take turns showing it to the class, telling why it’s special.
When my classes and I have some minutes left after writing time I share bits of stories from different parts of the world.
One of my favorites is titled The Most Beautiful Place in the World by the American children’s author, Ann Cameron. (Alfred A. Knopf, New York) I tell the kids that this is a story about a boy named Juan who lives with his grandmother in a mountainous city, San Pablo, in Guatemala.
“Listen for the writing,” I advise, “but listen too for how different Juan’s life may be than your own.” “The following excerpt describes Juan’s home city,” I tell the class, and then I read aloud from Cameron’s book…
…The only time people aren’t carrying things is at night, when they go out just to stroll around town and have fun and tell stories and talk to their friends. Everybody walks in the street, more or less straight down the middle, and if a car comes while somebody’s having a good conversation or telling a good story, the car has to wait till the story finishes before people will move out of the way. Stories are important here, cars aren’t.
Traveling is important to every child’s education, through stories like Cameron’s, and through other resources. Thanks to the magic of the Internet, virtual trips around the world can now be at our fingertips.
(*The sunset pic above, by the way, was not taken in Belize, although it might have been, as beautiful as Belize and many other places are; it was taken over the Pacific Ocean in Laguna Beach, California, US. Photo: Don Haudenschild)
The Attentionology Traveler will travel on to share more tools and tricks to catch and keep kids’ attention, helping K – 5 students achieve success.
Talk with you again soon,
Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet