I’ve taken to adding in “fun facts” to my class. I’m not sure if I got this idea from Dan Meyer in the first place, or if I stumbled upon it independently and then had my habit reinforced by his enthusiasm for a little fun unbound from the “standard” curriculum. They
Pro-crast-i-na-tion: I’ve seen all of my students do one of these at some point. I’ve done most, especially the “imaginary computer games with your furniture.”
Kung Fu Bear : I used it as a pep talk for my students while they were working on a presentation project. When you go to the zoo to see a bear, it’s pretty impressive. Bears usually are just lying around at the zoo, so it doesn’t take long to get over the impressiveness and move on. However, this bear decided he was going to take his game to the next level (here’s when I started the video). He wanted people to sit up and pay attention to him. People come from all over to see Kung-Fu Bear. People will watch him for hours. He’s mastered his game. I then told students I didn’t want their presentations to just meet the bare (hardee-har-har) minimums. Don’t just be a lazy bear. Be a Kung-Fu Bear!
21 Accents: Some classes loved it, others hated it. I was badgered by one class to play it multiple times spanning through the end of that week. In another class, I was asked to turn it off about 15 seconds in and never play it again. It’s amazing how different the personalities of my classes are this year.
I Love the World (The Earth is Just Awesome): I posted on this earlier. The class that hated the 21 Accents video loved this one. Wonder if there’s some psychological reasoning behind that…hmm… My other classes enjoyed it, but didn’t constantly demand to see it over and over and over and over…
666: I got the information for this from a RadioLab show (RadioLab totally blows my mind). Want to grab every student’s undivided attention in a class (yep, even the ones who haven’t earned a single credit since 3rd grade)? Throw up a 5 ft. x 5 ft. 666 on your projection screen- the room will almost assuredly fall eerily quiet. Here’s the story I told ’em about their favorite numbers: It turns out the oldest known manuscript of the book of Revelations says the “number of the beast” is actually 616. Interestingly enough, this is the area code for much of west Michigan (where I spent my undergrad years). I’ve embedded the section of the show below where it tells the full story. Or you can visit the RadioLab episode site.
I’ll try to update you with more good finds as I come across them.