Kappa Delta Pi Summer 2011 : Page 3

water, Fun Sparkles light up your classroom in short, unexpected flashes of amusement that bring a smile to everyone. Such moments are crucial to the well-being of your classroom. Remember, when we laugh, our stress levels go down. Laughter lowers anxiety and depression levels (Mayo Clinic 2010). Even the busiest days can spare a few minutes of Fun Sparkles. Here are a few examples you might try: 1–5 Minute Fun Sparkles • Share a funny story —especially one from your childhood! Show students a picture of you at their age. • Tell a joke, riddle, or puzzle. Save the answer for the end of the period or day. One high school science teacher begins every period with a very corny joke. Yes, the students moan and roll their eyes, but every class starts with a smile. Oh, and if he forgets the joke ritual, he is reminded by the students! • Share a daily cartoon. Tack a student favorite on a bulletin board. Invite students to create their own cartoons that illustrate vocabulary words. • Introduce a lesson with a quick game, such as Math Bingo. • Display an ongoing art project or map that students can work on at odd moments. • Read daily from an entertaining, humorous book. Tickle the funny bone of your age group and promote literacy! dance that connects with a social studies topic. Practice with music during any odd bits of time that present themselves. • Play classical music while students read— sitting or lying anywhere they choose. • Offer small surprises. Work outside on a project or provide a healthy treat during a lesson. • Learn the lesson and a creative skill. One 9th-grade teacher places directions and materials for an origami project at an independent-activity table for students to work on when they finish their work early. During a lesson on finding the perimeter and circumference of a circle, she teaches for ten minutes, and then demonstrates one fold of their developing origami birds. She teaches another ten minutes, and then one more fold. Students are fully engaged, learn math concepts, and enjoy a creative learning experience. • Create crazy mnemonic devices —the wilder, the better!  Remember animal classifications : K ing P hillip C ould O nly F ind G reen S ocks Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species  Keep straight the order of algebra operations : P lease E xcuse M y D ear A unt S ally Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subtraction According to a recent study on teacher stress and coping strategies (Richards, forthcoming), a sense of humor is one of the top coping strategies successful teachers use to maintain their enthusiasm. Fun Sparkles are just a start. For your enjoyment of teaching and to increase positive attitudes toward learning, personalize this list and add your own ideas. Look for opportunities to inject a moment of laughter into your school day. Having fun is addictive! Try it and see. References Done, P. 2006. Make ‘em laugh (& they’ll learn a lot more). Instructor 115(7): 32–34. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. 2010. Stress relief from laughter? Yes, no joke. Available at: www. mayoclinic.com/health/stress-relief/SR00034. Rochester, MN: Mayo Clinic. Richards, J. Forthcoming. Teacher stress and coping strategies: A national snapshot. The Educational Forum 76(4). 10-Minute Fun Sparkles • “Character-ize” your lesson. Use props, wigs, hats, or a lab coat when you present! For examples, you might introduce a social or cultural issue dressed as Martin Luther King Jr. or Cesar Chavez or play the part of a character in a book or story that is assigned. • Get dramatic or silly. “Miss Greco waved goodbye to the numbers on the chalkboard before she borrowed and carried them. Sometimes she even pretended to cry as she crossed them out. The whole class would laugh out loud. Suddenly subtraction became far less threatening” (Done 2006). • Dance. Take advantage of current trends and curriculum by teaching students a New Teacher Advocate • Summer 2011 • 3

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