In the Classroom: Focus on Fun!

By: Colleen McMaster, Elementary School Teacher, Member of Teach for America, and a Speakaboos Teacher Ambassador 

I recently asked a few students in my class about the best part of school. “I love it when we do fun activities,” said one student. “I love it when we make learning fun, Miss McMaster,” said another. A third stated: “The best part of school is when we all do our best, pay attention and have fun!” After my heart burst with pride (FULL SENTENCES!), I thought about what each statement has in common: FUN.

Education is not “one size fits all.” Myriad factors shape the experiences of students and teachers. Though teaching styles are all different, policy changes frequently, curriculum is updated right when you get the hang of it, and district administration is constantly in flux, one element of education remains the same: CHILDREN. As a second grade teacher, I know it is all too easy to become overwhelmed by data, attendance, conferences, observations, assessments, standardized testing, progress monitoring, and report cards. When our minds feel like a computer screen with a thousand tabs open, we should remind ourselves that we teach children.

I know my students value academic growth, focus on their goals, and work hard, but at baseline, they will always be children. In order to reach our students, we need to understand them developmentally and emotionally. Fun is the ultimate motivator in a lower-elementary classroom.

Reading is no longer rote memory, repetition and boring texts. In 2015, reading is developing a life skill by improving fluency and comprehension.   In 2015, reading is exciting, empowering and FUN. The smile on a child’s face after reading and comprehending a new, higher-level book is the most rewarding part of my job.

Since incorporating Speakaboos into my daily classroom center routine, I get to see those smiles more often. The animated stories and songs on Speakaboos has helped motivate my students to read, increased their confidence, and had a hugely positive effect on fluency and comprehension. Because my students have significantly less anxiety about reading, they are diving into not only Speakaboos stories, but also our class texts, guided reading work, homework and other academic subjects.

Among our classroom favorites: Home Run Ronnie, Santa and Baby, and Jack and the Beanstalk.

I am proud to say that I teach a class full of excited, motivated readers, who are engaged and invested in their education.