Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Jenny's Fun Tips: Teaching by Gossip

Making announcements to groups of children is a futile task. The only way to circulate key information is by acting as if it's a big secret.

Jenny knew this. Although she had a voice powerful enough to shout over three playgrounds full of kids (and used it daily to yell "L-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-ne up!"), she more typically would sidle over to the corner of the yard and sit for a spell. She might have a piece of origami paper with her, and casually fold it into a house for her "Fourth Pig" story.

A couple kids would gather, and then more, as Jenny circled into her story, folding paper the whole time. By the ending joke, she had an audience, and that audience was her afterschool group, who she could then casually usher into their next activity.

I used Jenny's trick often in my classroom. Rather than formally begin a tedious math lesson, I'd amble over to the angry-boy-who-cries-during-math and I'd show him the teacher's manual. "Check this out," I'd say, pointing to an illustration showing the connection between addition and subtraction. "I thought you'd like it--there's pictures of food." We'd chat about it and then, suddenly, math had begun.

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