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Monday, August 31, 2015

The Secret to Getting Kids to Pay Attention!

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I think I’ve discovered how to engage primary school students in the classroom… make everything you teach them revolve around poo and wee.

My class has been learning about the First Fleet and even though we’ve researched it thoroughly, studied the Industrial Revolution, the meagre rations on the ships, the landing at Botany Bay and Port Jackson, watched movies and read books about it, drew pictures; the only thing any of the kids could regurgitate in their test essay was a fleeting comment I made one day about how the convicts had to do their business in buckets below deck and that when the seas grew rough on the eight month journey, there was quite a lot of spillage.

Every single student wrote at considerable length about this one fact. 

Bugger the flogging, the scurvy, the two meals a day of stale bread and gruel… oh no. 

It was all about the poo.

One ten year old asked me which World War the First Fleet was fighting in.

“There was no World War,” I said slowly, shaking my head in incredulous defeat.

“But why were there ships then?” he persisted, not quite believing me.

“They were transporting the convicts,” I bleated. “Remember? The convicts?"

He sniffed and wandered off, clearly disappointed there was no violent war with submarines and machine guns to write about.

And then there was the student who wrote he was being transported on the 18th century vessel for stealing pizza.

Not sure they had Pizza Hut or Dominos in London back then.

It’s very hard to get a room full of kids to pay attention. They’re very bloody good at pretending to listen though. They stare at me and nod and laugh at the right time but they aren’t really taking anything in at all. They just humour me I think.

And it’s not just my personal failing as a teacher either.

We had an actual geologist from the university come to our classroom last week and the only thing the kids were interested in was the fossilised poo the gentleman had cleverly brought along. 

So I’m thinking of introducing Mr Hankey the Christmas poo into every lesson from now on.

You know… If Mr Hankey needs to carpet his bedroom which is 10 metres x 7 metres how many square metres of brown carpet will he need?

Or… if Mr Hankey weighs 500 grams how many Mr Hankeys would be needed to make 4 kilograms of poo?

Or in geography… Mr Hankey is travelling to South America. What sort of clothes should he take to suit the climate?

Or in literacy… Write an descriptive cinquain including imagery about Mr Hankey the poo.

Or in religion… What gifts did the Three Wise Christmas Poos bring the baby Jesus?

Or even in science… if we left Mr Hankey out in the wind and rain for several years what would happen to him and why? Draw a diagram to go with your explanation.

I could make classroom posters with Mr Hankey telling everyone to be respectful to each other. All poos are created equal and that sort of thing.

Or maybe I should just change career...

What do you think? Should I send by idea to the Board of Education.

Linking up with Jess from Essentially Jess for #IBOT