CM . . .
. Volume XIV Number 14 . . . . March 7, 2008
Imagine you are teaching a double period of math and students are losing focus, getting restless, whispering, or providing you with a vacant stare. In 3-Minute Motivators, Kathy Paterson presents teachers with an array of ideas to refocus students, remove some excess student energy and/or reduce boredom in three minutes. She refers to these ideas as a "touch of magic," and indeed they can be when used proactively to meet the needs of the students and then, on cue, turn their attention back to the subject at hand. Instead of reprimanding students to focus and pay attention, Paterson suggests we get them out of their seats, perhaps to pretend they are walking on soft fur, walking as a marionette, walking through tall grasses, or walking while feeling cold (These are just a few of the choices referred to as Mad Milling p. 60). Then, on cue, they return to their seats with the teacher concisely stating expectations, "Now that you've had the chance to move around a bit we will return to our problem f . . . . "
Paterson has included 123 motivators that are quick and simple to plan and use whether we wish to wake up student minds, use up energy, provide a positive break, calm students down or introduce a lesson. The introduction to her book effectively guides teachers to choose an appropriate motivator, use an attention cue, conduct the motivator and then conclude and refocus the students in 3 minutes.
The motivators are categorized "at a glance" in a 3-page chart to make them easy to find. The first group, entitled At Your Desks, includes two sub-groups, Calm Down and Pencil and Paper. The second grouping, Up and At 'Em, includes three sub-groups: Get Moving, Act, Don't Speak and Words and Movement. The third grouping, Let's Communicate, provides teachers with the choice of Single Words and Sounds, Conversation, or Brainstorm activities. The final section is a group of 12 motivators that go Beyond the Three-Minute Mark. Each motivator is also classified according to the appropriate subject area or listed as suitable for any area.
Each of these sections begins with a brief introduction describing situations when these motivators might be useful and how to make the most effective use of them. Each motivator description includes the title, purpose, related subject area, and whether it is an individual, partner or whole class activity. Paterson provides a script to follow to make it easy for teachers to facilitate any motivator on the spot. If paper and pencils are required that is also listed at the top of each description.
The index provides a further classification of the motivators according to purposes such as active listening, adverbs, directed thinking, or visualization, along with an alphabetical list of the motivators according to title.
3-Minute Motivators is a very useful resource for all teachers. It is written in an encouraging and engaging format that recognizes a need we all have at times to refocus our students in a positive way. With 123 motivators from which to choose, there is sufficient choice to find ideas suitable for any grade level or subject.
Betty Klassen teaches in the Faculty of Education in the Middle Years Program at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, MB.
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