Ask What’s Missing? Who is Paying Attention, Please?

Challenging Qs catch kids' attention. Ask students what's missing in this math problem. Answer: the addition sign!

Challenging Qs catch kids’ attention. Ask students what’s missing in this math problem. Answer: the addition sign!

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

First blog post of the new year here…I thought it’d be fun to help teachers see who is paying attention in class (or elsewhere) as 2015 kicks off.

“What’s missing? Who is paying attention, please?”

My first thought was to write the answer…

“Money in my bank account after holiday shopping!”

Actually, that’s not even true (any more than I budgeted for), nor is it what I think will facilitate K – 5 students’  learning as school is back in session in many parts of the world.

The focus on who is paying attention please is more about using a beguiling question to catch and keep kids’ focus on you…

What’s missing in this picture, image, iconography, etc? Kids love the challenge of figuring out the answer.

So here we go…

a few ideas about how you can engage even the most reluctant learners with a selection of “we’re back from vacation time Qs” that read/hear like game show moments…

Math Mystery – What’s Missing? Who is Paying Attention, Please? – Hold up a math card, like the one in my blog pic above, for the class to see.

Ask, “What’s missing here?”

Answer: the addition sign in this math problem.

Quick thinkers will figure out the mystery on a minute’s notice. Hold off calling on them. Wait a few more minutes and then call on a more reluctant or slower learner.

Praise for correct answers.

Applaud good observation skills in class.

Engage Children with Humor  Add some humor to the what’s missing; who is paying attention please challenges…

Story Character Search – What’s Missing? Who is Paying Attention, Please? – At story time, announce the title of the next adventure you plan to share with the class.

If  the story is titled Julio and Amelia find a dog on an Adventure, what's missing in this picture?

If the story for the class is titled Julio and Amelia Follow the Collie, what’s…make that who is…missing in this picture? Kids love easy answers!

For example, you may be ready to begin a story titled Julio and Amelia Follow the Collie.

Hold up a picture of one of the main characters and ask who is missing from this picture.

Well, the collie is in plain sight. Guess it’s Julio and Amelia who are missing!

Kids love the ease of easy answers.

Easy answers are often funny and almost always stress relievers.

“Whew! That was easy!” You can hear children saying those words to themselves when they know they’ve got the answer pegged.

Our science experiment will begin by STIRRING flour and water together. What's missing here? Who is paying attention, please?

Our science experiment will begin by STIRRING flour and water together. What’s missing here? Who is paying attention, please?

Science Experiment Time – What’s Missing? Who is Paying Attention, Please? – Add another element of critical thinking to a science experiment with students that employs the challenge of asking what’s missing as you begin the experiment.

Announce that you’ll be leading an experiment during today’s science lesson.

As you set out the materials needed for the experiment, instruct the class to watch closely.

Let’s say that the experiment initially requires flour and water.

Tell the class, “We’ll begin this science experiment by STIRRING together flour and water.”

Point to the surface where the experiment is underway and ask, “What’s missing? Who is paying attention, please?”

Answer: a spoon or fork to STIR the flour and water together!

This example, as well as the Story Character Search and Math Mystery that are described above, are purposefully simplistic for this post. Adjust the what’s missing, attention challenges with these and other activities you create or choose to use to suit your grade level.

The concept is key – As with any attentionology tool or trick, the concept is the key to its success. If you like the concept of attracting students’ attention with what’s missing questions, you can use this approach in any subject area of your curriculum.

Tap Multiple Senses – Tap into as many senses as you can – especially sight, sound and touch – when you involve students in activities that focus on what’s missing and who is paying attention.

Math Mystery, Story Character Search, and Science Experiment Time obviously use SIGHT to get to the answer.

What about SOUND? Try playing a piece of recorded music for the class that does not include percussion instruments. Ask students to listen carefully. After the music stops, hold up images of different instruments, including drums, and ask the class to name the instrument(s) that were not in the music they just heard.

What about TOUCH? If you work with young children, try cutting out and setting out pieces of different fabrics and other materials, including, for example, corduroy (textured), sandpaper (rough), and new, unused aluminum foil (smooth).

Gather students around the samples. Invite kids to take turns feeling the samples. Ask, “What’s missing? Who is paying attention, please?”

Answer: something soft!

If you like this attention-getting approach to teaching, keep it in mind and use it throughout the year to engage even the most reluctant learners in class.

Please send comments about how you use guessing games in school.

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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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 continue to use lackluster verbs in their writing.

Solution: Show toy cars and pretend to make them zip across a page, telling the class that good writing includes action words (verbs) that have "zip." Ask the class for examples of "zippy" verbs like zoom, race, flash, rush, etc.

Related Posts: Start Students' Engines for Writing