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Best Idea Ever: Racing to Listen

Education World's Best Idea Ever feature highlights a favorite teacher-tested idea designed to help you teach a lesson, manage a classroom, communicate with parents, impress colleagues and administrators—and amaze them all with your energy and creativity! 

California resource specialist Jay Edwards suggests this game for teaching kids the value of listening and thinking.

Take students out to the playground, and tell them you are going to name an object, and that they have to run as fast as they can to touch the object and come back to you. Then say, "See that fence on the other end of the field? Go touch a fence and come right back!" Everyone will race to the fence indicated and race back. Then say, "See that brick on the far corner of the school? Go touch a brick and come back!" Students will race off and huff and puff back. Continue repeating the same directions for a number of different objects. After two or three runs, one student finally will ask, "You said touch a tree. Can I just touch that tree right there?" Soon others will begin to catch on. Eventually, everyone is listening carefully and following the directions with much less effort.

Before heading back to the classroom, Edwards asks students to explain what happened and how they could use what they learned in the game to learn faster in the classroom (only having to listen to the teacher's directions once, asking on-topic questions, staying focused on what is being asked of them). "The next day," he reports, "everyone wants to play the game again -- but it only works once!"

Submitted by: Jay Edwards, Hemet Elementary School, Hemet, California.

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