Long division. Government. Figurative language. Complex sentences. Elapsed time. We all know what it is like to try to teach concepts that are difficult for students to grasp at first. It seems that the younger the students are, the more difficulty they have. Eventually, with time and practice, the light bulb comes on. And sweet relief! They’ve got it!
But what about the initial introduction to these challenging concepts? What about the meat and potatoes practice and remediation that inevitably follows? All of that can get a bit tedious and frustrating. Take the tension and pressure off a bit by using a novel focusing strategy that is exciting for students and increases their attention to the task at hand: Thinking Glasses!
“Thinking Glasses” can be found at discount stores marketed as “Nerd Glasses,” but if not, search online. If those are not available, you could alternatively use the cheap sunglasses you find in the dollar junk bins at discount stores. Whatever you choose and acquire, these glasses will be an invaluable “outside-the-box” tool to increase and maintain focus during intense instruction.
Before you introduce challenging curriculum, prepare students for it. Build it up! Let them know that the voyage they are about to embark on requires 100% complete focus, and that you are going to equip them with a tool to facilitate and maintain that focus throughout the lesson. Then dramatically whip out the glasses, making sure that every student has a pair – even save a pair for yourself. Make a big deal about them being called “Thinking Glasses,” and have everyone put them on at the same time. Then…super focused, begin the lesson. Let them continue to wear the glasses through the completion of related performance tasks. You will be surprised at the difference it will make!
Thinking glasses are for occasional wear only. They lose their magic if they are worn routinely! Break them out only for difficult content that requires extra focus, attention, and practice. After the first few uses, if students feel extra challenged by content, they will ask for them. Let them wear them! They are basically asking if you will allow them to increase, sharpen, and maintain their focus while you teach, or while they work. Yes, please! A class set of glasses is a small price to pay for the amount of reward you will get in return.