Posts Tagged ‘Marcia Tate’

Movement for Learning

They say you never forget how to ride a bike. The thing is…it’s true! Once you do something, it goes into your procedural memory and pretty much stays there. Moving around or acting things out ends up being a great way to remember all kinds of things.

That’s why I’d highly encourage you to try and find ways to incorporate movement into the classroom. I know my college professors always told me this, but secretly in my head I was picturing 32 kids running around the room driving me bonkers. Naturally, I didn’t do much movement at all this past year.

However, if you plan out the movement and you keep it focused and short, there shouldn’t be any crazy scenarios like the one that ran through my head. Students can simply stand up, right next to their desks. The movement can only be in their arms. Make it what will work for your non-chaotic classroom.

Pat your head

Here is a nifty example:

Parts of the Friendly Letter with Movements

  1. Heading- pat your head
  2. Greeting- wave
  3. Body- shake your shoulders and body
  4. Closing- stomp your feet
  5. Signature- sign your name in the air

Once students start acting out the information, it really will become knowledge that stays in their heads. Try to think about little ways and also ask your colleagues! A teacher in my department has her students bounce up and down like bunnies when going over why it’s important to stay on topic in your writing- you don’t want to be hopping all over the place like a rabbit with your thoughts.

Remember, the first step to doing something is to visualize it. The same thing can be said for learning!


Giving Group Time a Timeframe

Using small groups during a lesson is a great teaching technique. You want your students to get with 2-3 others and discuss, form questions, answer questions, etc. and then regroup as a class shortly thereafter to put all the newfound intelligence together.

Group Time

Um, but how are you going to make “shortly thereafter” happen? Kids can waste time and even though you can offer warnings like “5 minutes,” “3 minutes,” “1 minute,” the time spent still ends up lasting too long. Those verbal reminders are truly helpful…but if you are like me then these times aren’t exact and often I guiltily extended them.

Easy Fix- Add in a Song.

  1. Tell the students- we will be getting into groups of 2-3 (and then offer instructions on grouping and tasks as you so choose to do).
  2. You will have the time of this song to work with your group.
  3. When you hear the song coming to a close, then it’s time for you to closing up your group time.

This works well because the typical song will be about 3 1/2 minutes in length. The perfect length for some quick group time and then moving on. A familiar song’s ending will also cue the students so you don’t have to work at it as much.

Choose songs that are happy and upbeat. A downer tune or a slowjam isn’t going to liven up the room and inspire happy learners. Choose songs that may even seem corny- I like cheese. Make sure the songs aren’t from R. Kelly’s 12 Play or anything that is going to make you blush. Don’t creep out the kids!

Here are a few goodies to inspire: The Beatles, Kool and the Gang, KC and the Sunshine Band, BeeGees, Abba, Toto, Hall and Oates

What are some favorite songs you would recommend for the classroom?

Calling to Order

Bugle Boy

When watching movies (most likely Disney cartoons), have you ever noticed the spiffy bugle boy who signals for the crowds of peasants to stop what they are doing and listen up, because the powerful king has something to announce? Well I have, because I want to hire that bugle boy for my classroom. Getting your students attention can be tough sometimes, especially when it is 1:30, they are jittery, distracted, and full of sugar from three Milky Ways. You need to be heard so they can learn. Also, it has been said that people learn best by talking about ideas and doing. Yet you cannot have talking and doing in your classroom without a way to stop all the activity… without shouting.

No one likes to shout and no one likes to be shouted at. Oh, and parents and administration won’t be too pleased to hear about shouting. Then it’s agreed upon- you better have a device to get students’ attentions.

I have tried multiple techniques, but nothing has ever worked out stellar for me. Example- visual signals like “All eyes on me” and the students must point to their eyes to show you have their attention. Or verbal signals like counting down from 5, at which point everyone must be silent. Although I secretly giggle about being like Tupac with all eyes on me, it is somewhat babyish and I don’t think junior high kids react well to looking like little kids. And counting…well, the students must hear you for it to work, and let’s face it, sometimes my classroom is louder than it should be.

Wind Chime

Solution- Musical Chime- Ring 1X to get them to notice you. Ring 2X and there should be total silence.

This is a tip from Marcia Tate, of Worksheets Don’t Grow Dendrites renown. I had the great opportunity to attend one of her seminars and she used this throughout. A chime is better than a bell because it is a singular noise, not something like a bell which  you will have the urge to ring several times when frustrated. A chime is also better than a tambourine- silly or a kazoo- goofy (and annoying).

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