Sunday, March 13, 2011

Study Soiree

Words we choose paint and frame our experiences.  
I love using 'question' instead of 'problem' when talking math.  You can build excitement (engagement) around any subject by adding the word 'party' and an exclamation mark to the end.  
This works at any age.  The Alphabet Party!  The Math Party!  The SAT Party!  The Divorce Party!  Not so much on the last one, but the party is better than The Divorce Lamentation Fiasco.
Name a time and a place, grab the tools, incorporate a themed movie and provide snacks.  Voila Party!  
This past weekend we hosted such an affair, the Second Annual Spelling Party - the weekend before the school's bee.  We called the girlfriends at the last minute and asked them to meet us at Barnes and Noble with their spelling list.  I thought this would be a great place because it enforces the authenticity of the issue.  At any point the girls would be able to look up and see others engrossed in their studies as well.  And of course the Starbucks snacks would be close by and on hand.  
Before leaving home, I set a timer and asked the hostess (my daughter) to collect the items we could possibly need.  She returned with a bag full of dictionaries, thesauruses, paper, pens, index cards and highlighters.  I asked her to bring her cell phone and iPad as well.  Out the door we raced, after reaching the end of the block, we had to turn around, she had forgotten her spelling list.
The ladies chose the bar in the coffee shop to set up.  They studied word rows individually, in pairs, and all together.  I let them dictate the event, but I stayed to pronounce words and give tips.  
Once I heard that a child’s age is the amount of minutes they could focus.  These fifth grade girls are all around ten.  Every ten to fifteen minutes they took a break, then began again with another row.  I threw in a few scavenger hunt items from the list.  I purchased biscotti and challenged each girl to spell the word before they could delight.  ‘Auburn’ was another word we intended to search the store for until we found a natural, thankfully, she was sitting close by.
Some of the plans didn't work out.  I wanted to have the girls text their spelling words to each other with their cell phones.  One didn't own one, one left hers at home (mine), one's was out of batteries.  There wasn't a place to show the movie or time.  I checked out 'Spellbound' this year, last year we watched 'Akeelah and the Bee'.  We watched it at home.

  Fabeelous time!  Everyone learned a word - even me!  I might update you on their performance.  From my list they are all first place! 


  1. what a joy to read... you transported me to starbucks with you! and, i'm going to steal that party idea too!

    so, does the attention span thing hold true for teenagers??? my son will never get through high school at that rate, lol!!

    love you sooooooooooo much!


  2. Thanks Robin! I've learned so much from you. Yes, everybody the teacher has a teacher! My toolbox is full of Robinisms. Wait for 'em.