Friday, December 26, 2014

Focus Activities

The arts can be used to focus a class.

1. Mirror (do what I do while I do it)
This can take two forms--slow movement or repeated movement.

Slow movement: Follow a leader as if the leader is in a mirror. The leader should move very slowly so that the follower can follow. When working with an entire class, be sure to make it a challenge. Recently I was doing this with a fourth grade class. I had to review right and left and discuss how they would look in a mirror (if I raise my right hand, they should raise their left, etc.). You can also begin by moving both hands, your head, or shoulders at the same time. Keep it interesting, but not too silly; the idea is to focus the class, remember. A few fourth graders opted to not participate and so I started giving some positive feedback to other students (Wow! Look at your focus). After a few positive comments like this, the rest joined in. Move to a rest position and then immediately begin giving instructions (no pause!).

Repeated movement: Follow the leaders repeated movement--usually body percussion (clapping, snapping, stamping, etc.). Keep it easy enough so that they can accomplish it, but make it somewhat of a challenge at the same time. You can trick them once in a while and they will typically see it as funny. Use this to teach a pattern or to focus the class. When focusing, finish with a freeze in rest position and immediately begin giving instructions.

2. Echo after (do what I do after me)

Give a four-count rhythm pattern (e.g. clap, clap, clap-clap, clap) and have the students echo after. It may be necessary at first to count 1, 2, 3, 4 out loud while giving the pattern, but then have them just think the numbers. Be sure to put something on count 4. Give additional four-count patterns without pause. Keep it challenging, yet attainable. Change the rhythm, volume, or body percussion (clap, stamp, snap, tap head, etc.), but not the tempo. On another day you can choose a different tempo or even echo threes (or fives) instead of  fours. For intense focus, include patterns that have no sound. Then, when students are focused, begin giving instructions immediately.

3. Freeze

Basically, say "freeze" and then go around the room to see who is completely frozen. Keep checking until everyone is frozen. For variety, have them freeze like a specific thing.

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