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Saturday, December 26, 2015


I received an email recently from a teenager who liked my “Banana Dance.” She asked, “Are you a real doctor or just a doctor of fun?” What could be better than being called a Dr. of Fun!
e.e. cummings is one of the only poets I remember from college because of the delightful words he made up like “mud-lucious” and puddle-wonderful.” Lots of new words pop up every day now, such as FUNNESS. This is the definition I found on the interenet: “ Funness describes the most ultimate in any experience which would be described as fun, joyful, blissful, satisfactory, or even pleasurable. The epitome of fun.” That’s what childhood and learning should be in the best of worlds. (By the way, “funness” can also be used sarcastically, but I’m using the positive connotation.)

Engagement is a term that is appearing frequently in educational discussions because so many teachers seem to be struggling with getting children to focus and pay attention. Children are disengaging from the real world and living in a passive state where all the action takes place on the screen. A little more “funness” might be the answer to the dilemma. As I often say, “You have to reach them before you can teach them!”

Let’s see how we can add a little “funness” to engage children in learning and life in 2016!

1. Look your children in their eyes and smile. I don’t care where I go when I sing “I like you there’s no doubt about it” I have children in the palm of my hand.

2. Give you students 100% of your attention. Be in the moment!!! Send the message that YOU are the most important thing in the world right now. I’m giving you my best and I need to you to do the same.

3. Brain Research 101 says the brain likes anything that is novel, challenging, and new. Put something in a bag or box to create interest. Wear a pair of silly glasses. Use a strange voice.

4. Be enthusiastic! Teachers can add the magic to anything with their facial expressions, voice, and body language. Shut your door and be silly when you play a game or sing a song.

5. Physical proximity! Get close to your students. Create an intimate space by having the children sit on the floor in a circle. A gentle touch can send a positive message to the brain.

6. Do a movement activity to focus those busy hands. Lead children in a cheer or a clapping pattern. Use call backs and attention grabbers.

7. Turn skills you are working on into a game. When you say “game” that gets translated into children’s language as “play.”

8. Activate children’s senses. Keep them focused by stimulating their eyes, ears, and bodies.

9. Give students the opportunity to talk. People remember 70% of what they say. When children respond orally or talk with friends they are more likely to remember.

10. Use their name frequently. You might have a child day dreaming and simply saying their name will bring them back to reality.

Make it a New Year's Resolution to add a little “funness” to your curriculum every day. It will engage your students and it will also make your job more FUN for you!

Come back tomorrow and I've got a few ideas on how to "sugar coat" those standards!!