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Vulnerability, Focus, Ask 3 Then Me, & #WRAD

The Power of Vulnerability, TED talk by Brene Brown– While wading through the river of information on Twitter the other day, I ran across a tweet about this TED talk by Brene Brown. It is only 20 minutes long and is worth a watch. It really made me think about middle school– teachers, students, administrators, parents, etc. Here are a few take-aways:

  • Connection is why we are here– it gives us purpose and meaning to our lives.
  • Vulnerability is necessary.
  • “Children are hard-wired for struggle… my job is to look at them and say, You are imperfect, but worthy of love and belonging.”

I got to thinking about how valid and necessary these ideas really are, especially to those of us in middle school. Give it a watch. I’d love to hear what you think.

Building Attention & Focus– Another topic that is very middle school is attention and focus. When at a workshop for working with students from poverty, the speaker shared a number of tips and tricks for helping students to pay attention. She said, “Stop telling kids to pay attention and start teaching them how to do it.” Here are some ideas from that I’ve adapted for classroom use:

  • Busy Hands– Give directions while tossing a ball around the room, or any other activity to keep hands busy, while students are listening. I know it sounds counterproductive, but there are many students that need to doodle, fiddle with an object, fold paper, catch a ball, etc. to be able to focus on directions.
  • “Freeze, Focus”– sounds like a good brain break to me. Have students stop what they are doing and freeze for approx. 10 seconds. Then ask a few students to share what they saw or thought over that short break. Mannequin Challenge!
  • Make Memory Musical– Clapping, stomping, and tapping rhythms along with content can help students to focus on and remember information. We all know that kiddo that is tapping on their desk right now anyway, so why not make it purposeful?
  • Puzzles– Word games, logic questions, “what if” questions, puzzles, etc. can boost concentration and focus. Bonus: they’re fun!
  • Storytelling– Students love to be the center of attention, so have students provide information in a storytelling format where they are the main character.

Updated Ask 3, Then Me– We have all had to implement the “Ask 3, then me” strategy in our classrooms at some point. I’ve taught 6th grade… it was essential. Take a look at this post by Catlin Tucker (@catlin_tucker).  She suggests an updated version where students Google, YouTube, and post questions to social media before asking the teacher– 

She says, “ultimately, I think teaching this new version of ask 3 before you ask me will make our students more self-sufficient learners when they leave our classrooms.” With our 1:1 tech here in our building, this seems like a “no-brainer”, right?

World Read Aloud Day– #WRAD Thursday, February 16th is World Read Aloud Day. I know that might not sound as awesome as National Donut Day or National Peanut Butter Lovers Day, but all the same, I think it is worth our attention. Next Thursday, be sure to read aloud to your students, have them read aloud to you, a friend, or a pet. Snap pics and post them all over Twitter using #WRAD.




Instructional coach and former art teacher on the hunt for tips, tricks, strategies, and knowledge to pass along.

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