Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Finding Fun

As I continue to work my way through start of the school year reflections, I have blogged about my anxiety as a teacher and as a parent.  Now it is time for a little fun.

Fun? What is that?
Oh, fun is something you used to know.  It must feel like a distant memory.
I don't think we have time for that. There is too much to do.

I'm not sure at what age the shift happens, but by seventh grade I can tell you there is little time for fun.  It has literally been taken out of the schedule.  My school now has 20 minutes once a week for what we call homeroom, a scheduled time to connect with students and help them connect with each other,  oh and also cover topics like drugs, alcohol, bullying, character values, etc. Woo hoo, fun.  
The way I see it I have 2 options.  I can give in to this fun-sucking schedule and become one of those stressed out teachers that always looks cranky with the weight of the world on their shoulders as I wait for systemic change, or I can take charge of that which I can control: my classroom.

Now don't get me wrong.  I am extremely passionate about math and we have fun with it every day.  I think that my enjoyment and wonder of math rubs off on my students.  But I want more than that.  I want non-curricular fun.  The inside jokes that bond us together as a class.  The memories that will be written in yearbooks.  The nostalgic moments that we will look back on fondly.  

The challenge as a middle school teacher is that most of my students find most of their humor at other people's expense.  The sarcasm and mocking stems from the fact that middle school students have such low self confidence and are trying to find their place.  Every. Single. One.  Don't be fooled by confident middle school students.  They put on a good show, but every joke cuts deep and is internalized in ways that will impact who they become.  

This is why finding fun is so important.  But those stressed out teachers are right, there isn't time, at least not much.  The key to daily classroom fun is it must be simple (or you can't keep up with it) and it must be authentic.  Each teacher has to find their own style.  You can't fake fun or follow someone else's lesson plan for it.  So ask yourself: what do you find fun? 

I start each lesson with a math cartoon or funny gif.
My brother and I enjoy debating foolish things, usually food.  It drives my husband crazy, but my students love it. It often comes up when we are doing Estimation 180 tasks because they involve food.  Candy corn or pumpkins? Tough call.  Red Vines or Twizzlers? Redvines, obviously.

I never wear plain socks. In February, when there are no holiday breaks in sight, I start up fun sock Fridays.  The kids love showing me their fun socks.
Of course music is another great way to lighten the mood.  Since we are talking socks, here is a good one (the music starts about 30 seconds in):

 And then there is the foolishness that was the welcome to this blog.  Like many teachers I use bitmojis as if they are my team teacher.  Biti me is everywhere.  I was out of class an unusual amount last year and when I was planning for a sub, yet again, I got the brilliant idea that I would make Biti me talk.  It would be just like I was there (FYI it was nothing like I was there.  The students found it creepy and funny at the same time.)  So for those of you wanting to do the same, here is how it is done.

The Bitmoji must be saved as a picture on the iPad to access it from Chatterpix.  I do not have Bitmoji on my iPad, but I do have a folder in Google Drive with my favorite and most used Bitmojis saved as pictures.  I can then open drive on the iPad and download the Bitmoji pics to the iPad.  I also have Bitmoji in my email and can email them to myself and open them on the iPad.

In Chatterpix, select take a picture and you can choose the Bitmoji from your camera roll.  Chatterpix is very intuitive and user friendly.  You select where you want the mouth to open by drawing a line and record your voice.  Once you have created a talking Bitmoji, download it back to the camera roll.

From the iPad you can either upload it back to Drive or upload it to YouTube.  That way you can access it from a computer.  I chose to upload to YouTube and insert it in a Google Presentation.  Now that you can insert videos from Drive either option would work well.
A few tips:

When I was on my iPad, I remembered this fun (and free) app called Sock Puppets.  I forgot how much fun it is and might have to add it to the mix this year. 

I don't care what grade you are in.  That is just fun, right?  

Like I said, it has to be simple and authentic.  If these ideas don't sound fun to you, don't use them.  Kids can smell contrived fun and won't buy into it.  I would love to hear what you do to add fun and memories to your classroom.  Please use the comment section below to let me know!

No comments:

Post a Comment