Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Magic in the Classroom

The Making of Harry Potter 29-05-2012
The Making of Harry Potter 29-05-2012 (Photo credit: Karen Roe)
by Lee W Reed

They were just third graders but they were a handful. When the teacher turned them over to me they had been little angels as she threatened them with dire consequences if she heard a bad report about them.

What she didn't tell me, and I learned later, was that the training she had to attend, the reason for this sub assignment, was right next door to this classroom.

For that reason, at different times of the day she would pop in and get her kids to quiet down.

Apparently she was a bit embarrassed by the noise coming from her room while I tried to maintain some sort of control.

I was having a hard time maintaining quiet and keeping kids on task. The cold stare I have found to be so effective at the middle school level was having no effect at all on this bunch.

Plus, I had some kids with obvious behavioral issues that probably didn't have the tools they needed to stay on task even if they had wanted to.

As good as I like to think I am with middle schoolers, I was losing with this group. In desperation I turned to an old standby, a tool I have found to be effective from kindergarten through high school; a bit if classroom magic.

I raised my hand and asked if anyone knew how to magnetize their hand. No, no one was even aware that such a thing was possible. I told them that I did have that ability and would show them I could do it provided they could stay quiet for the next five minutes.

Immediately the class settled down, though I admit it actually took twenty minutes before they we were able to get five minutes of uninterrupted silence. Clearly it was not the perfection I had hoped for, but it was a lot better than it had been.

I congratulated them on their achievement and thanked them for the quiet. I went on to say that I would keep my end of the bargain by showing them how I could magnetize my hand. I took my right hand and blew into it.

Then I rubbed in on my left shoulder and finally pick up a large marker with it, making sure that the marker hung out beyond my hand on either side. With my left hand I rubbed my right wrist so as to focus the magnetic energy into my palm, and then, to everyone's amazement, I opened my right hand, palm down showing that the marker was now stuck to my palm.

I shook my hand violently to prove that it was indeed stuck in that position and was not coming loose. Then I closed my hand around the marker again and handed it over the nearest child for their inspection. Everyone wanted to see it to see if they could solve the mystery.

I went on to explain that it was possible for me to show them how to perform similar feats, but I would only show them if they were able to maintain quiet until lunch.

By this time they knew that quiet was possible, they had been able to maintain it for five minutes, hadn't they? But still, the hour and a half to lunch was a huge challenge for such an undisciplined class.

Fortunately for them, and perhaps me as well, their teacher returned in less than an hour, her training seminar ending a bit sooner than she had planned. I quickly gathered up my stuff and began to leave but the kids wouldn't let me. They insisted that I show them my trick.

I explained that there regular teacher was back and she was in control, so they turned their desperate pleas in her direction. Twenty two little faces all looked at her with pleading eyes.

How could she possibly say "No"? She gave her permission and I spent the next three minutes showing the kids how they, too, could magnetize their hands.

I have used this strategy many times since, always with the same results. Kids love magic. More importantly, they love to learn to do magic. The idea that they can master a simple trick with which they can amaze their friends is powerful and compelling.

I am not a magician, not by any stretch of the imagination. As a matter of fact, my skills are pretty poor, yet that doesn't seem to matter. What matters is that I have a few tricks I can use and pass on to them that require little or no preparation and make use of everyday items.

This isn't the only trick in my bag of tricks, but it is certainly one of the most effective and one my students love. Spend a few minutes learning some everyday magic and see if your results aren't the same.

Your students may not be impressed with your mystical powers, but they will love the fact that you have given them some of their own.

Lee Reed makes no claim to be a magician. But he does claim to love kids and loves teaching and for that reason he has brushed up on his childhood love of magic to give his students some tools they can use to amaze their friends.

In the process he has learned to use this powerful device, and his student's love of magic, for good and not for evil. This article is from his upcoming book: Magic in the Classroom.

You can find more of his insights at his blog: http://teachingadayatatime.wordpress.com/

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Lee_W_Reed

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