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Re:[teacherartexchange] Big Ideas & Getting Students Attention


From: Terry Marney (terrylou63_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Wed Jul 06 2005 - 09:49:59 PDT

     When I first learned how to write lesson plans, if I remember correctly, the Big Idea was a very general time-enduring theme such as "Community". The Enduring Questions would then be used to guide students into thinking about things like "What is your community?" "Who is important in your community and why?" "Why do we need a community?" "What are some things we can do to help others in our community?:"etc. Then, building off of these questions, we'd begin our lesson such as designing a mural for our community, creating a work of art based on an important member of our community, etc.

     If I could add my two-cents' worth to the discussion about getting attention in the classroom....I really struggled with this issue this year, my first year of teaching. My high school students were a mixture of interested students and those taking it just for an easy credit. Usually, when I tried to get their attention, I would say "Ok, could I have your attention?" and the 'artsy' kids would pressure the 'non-artsy' kids into quieting down for me. Peer pressure can be a wonderful thing! But my middle school kids were an entirely different issue. Our classroom was a small room, no windows, and really high ceilings which made every noise echo. Also, we were right next to the cafeteria, so on the days where our class was during high school lunch time, I had to compete with the lunchnoise and the administrators shouting over their microphones. It was completely obnoxious. I had to learn to let a certain amount of noise go, because it was impossible to expect quiet. I did
 find that music helped because, again, peer pressure. Some kids would 'shush' others so that they could hear a song. Some days I would physically walk from table to table, saying "Im waiting for this table to be quiet....I'm waiting for THIS table to be quiet..." and some days I would send people to the vice-principal when it got to the point that I just couldn't teach around their noise. This usually got the attention of the others. I thought of a whistle...or an air horn!! but decided it was just too obnoxious for that small, contained space. Flicking the lights off & on really didn't work either. So I don't really have an answer for that problem....I'm just praying that I won't be stuck in that little room again next year. I think it's most helpful when we DO have administrators that will back you up. Sometimes that's the only way to really make a point. But again, I'm just a first year I appreciate everyone's comments, suggestions and ideas that have
 worked for them. Personally, I won't stand on a table myself....but I think it's great that someone mentioned that! I had an 8th grade math teacher who used to do this....and I remember him to this day! He would get all dramatic, just to get our attention, standing on the table, tugging at his hair, breathing heavily through flared nostrils, and banging on the board with his pointer stick! We'd all talk about how crazy he was, but BOY did he get our attention!


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