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    keeping their attention
    By Betsy

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    I am guilty of having conversations with my colleagues about how we shouldn't have to "entertain" children to get them to learn. But I went to a conference in November where I heard a presenter put this into perspective for me. She talked about the entertaining cartoons, movies, and games that children play all the time. Then she said that whether or not we like it, we must compete with this type of entertainment if our students are going to learn. We must learn to be entertainers. So try to insert some humor, funny voices, and sudden dance moves into your lessons. I found a huge pair of sunglasses at the dollar store one time. I took them to school and told the students I'd wear the glasses to recess if they were able to impress me with their listening skills. They loved it! Once it was a headband with reinderr antlers and once it was construction paper cut into a frame for an art project that I ended up wearing outside the classroom!

    Not all lessons can be spontaneous or fun. I really struggle with making my third graders concenrate during Grammar lessons. These are some of the strategies I use to keep my kids on track.

    *First, I often talk with my kids about why it is important for them to pay attention when I am talking. I let them talk about things they can do to stay focused. I always share with them that they should focus on my voice. If they realize that their minds have drifted, that's okay because even adults can't pay attention 100% of the time. But when they find themselves in this situation, they should sit up real straight, maybe blink their eyes real hard a couple of times, and even roll their head from shoulder to shoulder. I believe that these moves help the mind to refocus and wake up. Be real with your students. Let them know that you have this problem sometimes too, but that by doing the things named above you are able to refocus.
    *One poster mentioned walking around the room and standing by the student's desk. Also try the tried and true "name dropping." Example: "Remember, Todd, that the assignment is to be turned in before lunch." I am the queen of name dropping.
    *Instead of doing five problems altogether, have the students do them with their partner. Instead of reading the definition together, have them do it with their partner. If you ask for students to share an expereience that is related to a topic being discussed, have them share their experience with a partner. This eliminates boredom from setting in too quickly and gives alls students the chance to share. My students sit in groups of four, and to eliminate any arguing and time wasting we have worked out a system for sharing in groups. When I want them to share I simply tell them how. Partner sideways is the person next to you. Partner front ways is the person in front of you. Partner cross ways is the person sitting diagonal from you. This helps students stay on task by being able to quickly move into sharing with the designated partner as well as providing a variety of who they are sharing with.
    *I do have students turn a card (our behavior management system) when needed. In extreme cases I have had some students who tend to get very sleepy to stand for five minutes while I continue teaching.

    I have enjoyed reading the other posts about keeping students attention. I hope something from my post will help you.

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