July 10, 2016

Pattern Interrupt

(It wasn't this one, this is just the first hit on google)
I'm sitting in my workshop, having a great discussion with my neighbor about engaging our students when the presenter says, "Look at this giant lemon!" He marvels at its size, tells us how his colleague grew it in their garden and then moves on to tell us about pattern interrupts. We'd just experienced one. All the participants were chatting and the teacher needed to regain our attention, so he did something novel. Seeing or hearing novel stimuli interrupts the flow in our brains and we're left in a moment of confusion. At that moment we're more suggestible than usual and so we're willing to engage in whatever the teacher offers next. In this case it was an explanation of what we'd just experienced, but in class it can be a seamless segue into whatever content you want to focus on. The presenter suggested using this to regain the class from off task behavior (keep something in your back pocket to use as needed) and it obviously also works as a transition from group work to a whole class discussion (plan it as part of your presentation).

For homework between the two days of the workshop we read three articles which provided a variety of strategies to use as pattern interrupts and wrote a response paper.

Article 1: 6 Ways to Get (and Keep) Students' Attention
Article 2: 29 Super Effective Ways to get Yyour Students' Attention Without Ever Raising Your Voice
Article 3: Brain-Based Learning Strategies: Hold Students' Attention With a Radish

My response:
This year I had my contained math class last block every day. They all had substantial disabilities and many had attentional challenges as well. The students would frequently arrive to my room riled up and already worn out from working so hard to focus in their other classes. We tried a variety of strategies to get them ready to transition into math. One method was to do some deep breathing while watching a video (not this one, but it has shapes so it’s apt https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9Q8D6n-3qw although I might prefer a video with sound) This was a nice way to refocus the class that they were eager to engage in, some even lay down or closed their eyes. An exciting moment was when the class was really antsy and I was getting frustrated – one of the distracted students suggested watching the video. I love when students pick up on strategies that help them and advocate for themselves. It was a great break for me as well, I breathed out the frustration and breathed in the teacher win of having taught my students some life skills!              

The article suggests doing some yoga along with the deep breathing. I like the suggestion of doing the chair pose. For my class last year they were willing to lay down and settle, but I am sure that will not always be the case. For some students with ADHD the issue is refocusing, but for others having a good outlet for their energy (chair pose is a workout!) will be necessary. It would also be a fun challenge to see if we can all improve the length of time we can hold the pose over the semester.              
I like the suggestions to post random facts such as birthdays or quotes, this seems most like the giant lemon we saw today. I sometimes use this list of growth mindset quotes (http://cheesemonkeysf.blogspot.com/2014/06/growth-mindset-quote-of-week.html) to have students write a response as an exit ticket but they would also be good as pattern interrupters. Another great way to incorporate random facts would be to use something in the news that includes math! A statistic to interpret or even a quote about something growing exponentially. We could take a moment to wonder if it was truly exponential growth and then continue with the lesson. Also finding math mistakes – people who mark the price as .50 cents (meaning $0.50) will be aha moments as the students around the room figure out what is wrong.              

One article mentioned classcraft. I have heard of minecraft, I wonder if they are related. I would be interested in learning more about what classcraft is.              

Another article spoke about advertising. This is our administrator’s new initiative of the month. If it lasts through the summer he will want us to introduce each unit with a capstone task that the students will be working toward throughout the unit. In the history department students learn the topic of their final essay at the beginning of each unit, which is reasonable to share – the essay is the big question of the unit (What caused the war? Compare and contrast two countries.). However, for math class we are having a harder time figuring out how to hook/advertise the unit. We want students to discover a variety of aspects of the math so advertising can feel like a spoiler. For most units we have a performance task of some sort that we could show students at the beginning of the unit but I am not sure how well it will advertise. Perhaps we could design an advertisement, "We’ll be running a
lemonade stand once you learn how to write equations of lines!" that will pique interest without ruining the satisfaction of figuring out the mathematical content?            

I also want to learn about musical cues. Several articles suggest a call and response with the class but that does not fit with my style of teaching. One article suggests playing an instrument or a song. I have read about using musical cues in the classroom that are times clips of a specific length which are each for a different task. http://mrvaudrey.com/music-cues/ For the past several years I have wanted to start implementing this structure, and Matt has really broken it down so it should not be too hard to do, maybe this year will be the year! I do not have any new preps this coming school year so it is prime time to add some new strategies to my toolbox.


1 comment:

  1. I'm taking a class on beginning blogging, and needed to practice leaving a comment on someone's blog. I searched for math model drawing, and found yours. Now my notes about my blogging class include notes about pattern interrupting, and you are bookmarked! Thanks

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