Ha Ha to A-Ha

Today's keynote address was called "The Sense of Humor". It wasn't as funny as I hoped it would be, but it made me feel like I'm doing something right. If nothing else, I do know how to make my students laugh.

One point made was that students come into every situation and subconsciously decide if it's a safe place or not. If it seems threatening, that's when the fight or flight response comes into place. Humor, especially making fun of yourself creates fun and welcoming environment. Also, by making the class a fun place to be, students are more likely to show up. A simple concept. Looks like I'm not the only one who hates to miss out.

Some research of humor's effectiveness showed that:
  • Humor facilitates learning.
  • Humor helps change people’s behavior.
  • Humor promotes an increase in creativity.
  • Humor reduces stress.
He also talked about having an arsenal of funny things always ready to use. In my class, I am that arsenal. He mentioned including humor on tests and worksheets. Also, to include visual humor and acting, not just telling jokes. Teachers are the greatest improvisers of all time. Especially if you don't make lesson plans. ;)

One idea I liked was making funny name tags. I don't know how I would incorporate this but it could be good for a beginning of the year icebreaker. Or maybe at the end of the year to remind students of how they changed over the year. It sounds like fun anyway.

Although we had to do a lame ha-ha-he-he-ho-ho chant and make weird faces, the lecture was good.

The breakout session I chose was called "Math Games to Build Math Skills and Thinking". My first impression of the educational consultant was that she was condescending and rude. She made us feel stupid for teaching the way we teach; as if her way was the only correct way of teaching. Which, I just realized, means I need to be careful about making students feel stupid for not thinking the same way as me, or what I deem as "correct".

We didn't really learn a whole lot about games but one thing I did like was the idea of using a game to teach the concept and then the assessment is that they have to teach someone else how to play the game. We all know learning is done best by teaching others and I think it would be something students would understand and appreciate more. And you can't really cheat.

I wish I could have a cool game, song, video, or idea to go with every concept I teach. I can handle the warm up and the assessment and all the housekeeping crap, but I need engaging, meaningful content and I need it now!!

Some of the games mentioned in the handout were Pig, Math Dice, Roll Two Dice, Two Dice Sums, How Long, How Many?, Capture, Who's the Greatest (version of Capture), Card Countdown, Is It 10?, Number Club: A Game of Place Value, Pigs and Chickens, Twenty-Five: A Math Card Game, Number Thief, Fact-O!, Math Bingo, and Contig. If you've played any of these or want to know more, you can e-mail me for more instructions.

She had some games available for us to play for including Equate, Smath, Set Game, 24 (Fraction-Percent-Decimal) and some others I don't remember. But they did have a pegboard that was the coordinate plane. It came with pegs and rubber bands. It looked really fun to use for graphing, reflections, and transformations.

Thanks to todays sessions and a Geico commerical, I learned that we need to let kids be themselves. They learn more when they play and enjoy themselves. We should quit trying to place limits on who they are and instead make who they are better and better. Plus I don't plan to spend all day, every day not having fun.

Nothing is quite as funny as the unintended humor in reality. -Steve Allen


  1. Good for you to turn a negative experience into a learning tool!

    And even though it seems great to have a "fun" way to teach every lesson, I think it is good for kids to learn that all of life isn't fun, and there are some things we have to learn and do even if they are NOT fun. Unfortunately, that's life.

  2. I don't know about you, but my students have mastered that particular lesson many times over.