Polski3's View from Here

Quote of some personal revelence: "Is a dream a lie, that don't come true, or is it something worse?"

Saturday, October 21, 2006

MOVE, MESS, and Stuffed Critters in your Classroom

A couple of semesters ago, I attended a one-day workshop geared towards "engagement" at the junior high level. One of the things the presenter stressed, is that junior high age students need to "move" and "mess". This means that ideally, they shouldn't sit for extended periods of time and when they do move about the room, a certain amount of "messing around" will take place. This is part of the nature of most junior high age students.

Anyhow, at a recent faculty meeting, we were introduced to an idea for "moving and messing" with our students. The teacher demonstrating this activity used a 'koosh' ball (you know, one of those soft, spiky colorful balls). When a student had answered a question or performed a task, they get to chose the person for the next question or task. They do this by either *easily* tossing the koosh ball to the person they choose, or they can physically get up and walk the koosh ball over to the person of their choice. This covers both "moving and messing" according to the ideas of student engagement.

Friday after work, I went down to our local Salvation Army thrift store to obtain several objects to try this in my classroom. (I'm too cheap to spend a couple of bucks on a koosh ball at Walmart [ where good union teachers are not supposed to shop! ]). I bought a couple of small used stuffed animals to use for this activity.... for .25 cents each. As this is being written, these little stuffed creatures are being washed in my washing machine.

For many years now, students in my classroom have been answering questions, reading aloud, performing a specific task, etc., then getting to chose who is next. (I think this is a jigsaw type of activity.) I can easily add tossing or movement to this activity. Years ago, I had a small collection of stuffed animals in my classroom, also purchased cheaply at thrift stores or at garage sales. A number of students liked being first in class so they could have one of these stuffed animals at their desk. I had these critters in my classroom for a couple of years, then removed them due to damage, squabbles over who got to have a certain animal at their desk, and this being a junior high, a few students were, shall we say, doing inappropriate things to/with these stuffed animals. One of the stuffed critters, known to the students as "Monkey-Bear" was given to a girl who just adored this raggity critter. I saw her not too long ago (her little brother came through my classroom), and after saying "Hi Mr. Polski", she delightfully let me know that she still had "monkey-bear" and that he stays on her bed. And that she'd just graduated from high school and was starting college :-).

Moving and Messing. You gotta learn to deal with this and teach your students the limits, if you want to teach junior high/middle school level.

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