This summer, my assistant and my mom accompanied my kids and I to the zoo for our field trip. Upon meeting my mother, he informed her that I apparently have "chronic dancing disease." This is probably true--given more than a few seconds with nothing to do, I often start dancing around (much to the amusement of my students). So whenever I can, I make dancing part of our normal classroom fun.
Yesterday the kids were working on some measuring activities. Actually, they were "working" on some measuring activities. I went through their work at the end of the day and half of them weren't finished. Disappointed by the amount of work accomplished in comparison to the amount of time I gave them to do it in, I decide that today's learning objective would be "I can do my best work in math class."
I gave them my usual speech about how working harder makes us smarter, and we learn both by being good listeners and by getting our work finished (or as much as we can). And then I introduced them to the Smarty Pants Dance. If you haven't seen it, it's amazing. Arty Smarty Pants is a puppet from the reading show Between the Lions (a fantastic show if you've never seen it--totally worth watching with your own kids, or even your students) on PBS. Arty Smarty Pants is all about word families, so he pulls these words out of his big red checkered pants ("Hot, pot, lot, popcorn!" And then popcorn also comes out of his pants. Random, I know, but highly amusing).
We talk about what a "smarty pants" is (someone who works really hard at school and as a result knows a lot of stuff) and then whenever we have a day that everyone works really hard, we get to watch the Smarty Pants Dance. (And of course, we sing along.)
On this particular day, not only did we watch the Smarty Pants Dance, but we also did a little dance every time someone finished their work. And whaddaya know, the more we danced, the more kids got their work done!
Dancing is a magical thing.