About Ginny Hoover...
Ginny Hoover took an early retirement after 31 years of teaching in Kansas public schools. Her experience spans the 5th through 8th grades. During the last ten years she has functioned as a trainer of teachers in a variety of areas in her district, surrounding districts, professional organizations, and teacher service centers. At the state level Ginny is a state trainer and a writing assessment grader for the KS State Writing Assessment (based on the Six Traits Writing Model), a member of the Kansas Social Studies Committee for writing the social studies standards, benchmarks, and indicators, and the lead trainer for the state in government and civics.
Recently, Teacher TimeSavers has published a variety teaching units and tutoring hookups that Ginny wrote and designed. These include a literary unit for Taming the Star Runner, Hookups for Language Arts, Transcripts of Trials for Goldilocks, The Wolf, and Mr. Dad, and Tactile/Kinesthetic Activity Patterns.
The Gifts of Children by Hoover and Carroll Killingsworth, a book about recognizing, acknowledging, and refining the gifts of children, is scheduled to be published some time this year. Visit Teachers Helping Children--The Gifts Project for additional information.
Ginny's Eclectic Middle School pages
The Gifts of All Children
by Carroll Killingsworth and Ginny Hoover
The Eclectic Teacher
by Ginny Hoover
Recently I read that if you have 30% of your students' full attention at any one time, that that was probably average. I found that mind-boggling! If that is correct, it's a little scary to comprehend!
So, I thought about the idea of start and stop times---those are probably the times when students give quality attention because they know something is going to happen, and they just might be held accountable for it. I'm thinking here about that value, and then I can hear a little birdie reminding me about not interrupting students hard at work.
As a result of that contemplation, my next thought would be the importance of teacher observation. If students were hard at work, why bother them? If too many are straying from the task, call them to order and ask them to do a quick activity---like think, pair, share, "What have you completed so far this period and what is the importance of that work?" Want to raise the level of concern? Then have them record the start-stop activities and turn in their responses for grades. If they have done as you have asked, give them full points. You don't have to grade them beyond that. In addition, you have provided them with the added benefit of a periodic review of information using the start-stop activity.
This stop/start philosophy can be added to lectures to increase the level of concern and student participation. Also, for those of you who have block scheduling, think about student movement. It is hard to sit for 90 minutes. Whenever possible, incorporate student movement. I'm not talking about exercising. I'm just saying that students can benefit from getting up to hand in papers when completed instead of passing the papers in…think of ways your students can move around without disrupting the learning environment. I had one student who could not sit still, so I just assigned him two desks, and he was free to walk back and forth between the desks as needed as long as he did not disturb fellow students.
Since attention span of a student is 10-15 minutes, then it would be wise to acknowledge that by inserting start-stop times. You have nothing to lose, give it a try. The benefits just might surprise you.
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