One thing I’ve often found in my classroom is that a well placed joke can pique even the most disinterested student’s attention. I’ve found making a (typically bad) joke during instructional time can keep students listening. In fact, I’ve been working on powerpoints for my new Reading Street materials this summer and I’ve inserted silly pictures or jokes into each day’s presentation. I find most of these on www.pinterest.com, but www.facebook.com is also a good source.
What’s great about these jokes is that it helps the class see you as more of a regular person. When we laugh together, we bond, which makes them more likely to want to learn what you have to teach. It also relieves stress, which we all know is in plentiful supply in a middle school!
As the students spend their days worrying about whether they fit in, it’s nice to take a break from the worry and relax for a minute. I’ve also had students come to me with jokes between classes because they know I like silly, corny jokes.
Today, I found a wonderful video, made by people at Mission Control about the Mars Curiosity Rover: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFvNhsWMU0c&feature=g-upl. Take a look – it’s fun to watch and helps make a point with your students that being silly can blow off steam and helps anyone do a better job. If NASA can laugh at itself, certainly an eleven year old can.
Do you use humor in your class? What have you found to be the best way to engage your students?