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A Modern Game of Concentration

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted one of my lessons. Be assured I still am actually quite busy and have not stopped guidance lessons, small groups, or individual sessions (which I’m sure it seems – but do not fear, I am not over here with my feet kicked up, eating Bon Bons in my room). I will once again blame homework and Grad school for taking every last spare second of my time these past few weeks.

Anyways, a few weeks months back I planned a concentration lesson to do with the 4th graders (WOW, now that I look back, I did this lesson on the 16th of October). See, I’ve taught these boys before. 177 full days of teaching. So I know every last one of their quirks, strengths, and weaknesses. And since I’ve been know to compare last year’s class to a circus, I know that concentration was something to work on.

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Concentration

Topics Covered: Responsibility, Fairness, Communication Skills, Responsible Behavior, Decision-making ad Problem-solving

Prior to the lesson, I went into the 4th grade room, borrowed a Social Studies book, and copied the last two chapters of the book. I used these chapters as one of my materials. The 4th graders really enjoy Social Studies. I wanted to make sure whatever I gave them to read actually interested them.

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Round 1

  1. I talked to the boys about a game we were going to play to “test” their concentration skills.
  2. I explained that I was going to hand out a chapter to read. They would have 5 minutes to read the chapter and gather as much information as they could. It was a game, so here were the tricks: – no pencils, highlighters, papers, etc – A movie would be playing in the background – the lights would be turned off. I reminded them that at the end of the 5 minutes I would ask some questions to see how closely and carefully they were able to read.
  3. After the 5 minutes were up, I collected all the reading handouts and began asking the questions. I only had about 5 questions, and there were probably only about 5 boys that could even concentrate long/hard enough to attempt to answer my questions. Each correct answer earned a point.
  4. We then generated a list of what we could do differently to get more of the answers correct. Many asked if they could take notes, turn the lights on, and every one of them asked for the movie to be turned off.

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Round 2

  1. This time I used a different chapter. I allowed the boys to do ANYTHING they thought would help them concentrate, but whatever they chose to do could not cause a problem for someone else. I only gave them 5 minutes to read as carefully as they could.
  2. Once again, after the 5 minutes were up, I collected all the reading handouts and began asking the questions. This time the questions actually produced a real classroom conversation. More than 80% of the boys were participating, and the ones that weren’t said that they needed more than 5 minutes to read the material (which brought up a whole other topic of conversation). Just like before, each correct answer earn the boy 1 point.
  3. At the end, we totaled the points to find 1 winner.
  4. We ended the lesson by identifying one thing they were willing to try to help improve their concentration that week.
  5. Because the activity ended up being a harder competition than I thought, I ended up giving the winner a bag of Takis (their choice . . . not mine).

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After a couple months of reviewing concentration, it seems more work can still be done. Apparently bad habits truly do die hard. Either way, it seems that it’s easier to call their attention to their distracting behaviors, especially those behaviors that might be disrupting another classmates concentration. So, I would say their awareness is up, but we need to continue to practice monitoring their own concentration.

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I recommend giving the lesson a try . . . I could see it working for various grade levels. I’d be curious to see how well it worked on older students who are more motivated to change their existing behaviors.

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