Remember these? Silly Bandz. A few years ago they were all the rage with my middle school students. They simply couldn’t get enough of them. I remember one student that proudly displayed hers, coordinated by color, from wrist to elbow. One day at school I was called down to the office and asked to cover someone’s after school tutoring class. Of course I obliged, but when I showed up to a room full of less than eager writing students I immediately knew that six page packet of worksheets I was left to work with was NOT going to cut it. I began scanning the room for a plan B. There always has to be a plan B somewhere, and sure enough I found my alternate plan on the very arms of the students in front of me. I ask the students to pull off one of the millions of bands they had on their arm, and kindly requested several to share with the students in the room whose arms were not enslaved by the bands. I asked them to then find a partner who didn’t know what band they had picked. The pair then had to start describing the band they had selected to their partner using enough details that their parter would be able to guess what they were describing.
Without the students knowing it they were having a conversation about descriptive details.
From there we continued doing a number of activities with their beloved bands. We concluded by writing stories where they had to incorporate the band’s object into their stories.
Students had a great time. They were laughing, and talking about not only their prized Silly Bandz, but also the craft of writing. In fact, they were having conversations about the same things they would have been doing mindlessly in the packets I was left with. The only difference between my activity and the packet was that my activity capitalized on something that was near and dear to those kids, the Silly Bandz, and connected it to back to what they needed to learn.
As quickly as they rose to fame, the Silly Bandz craze was relatively short-lived, so I’m not advocating that you start digging around and try to replicate this activity in your classroom – it probably won’t work. Kids these days have moved on to something else, but it is the idea that we all need to capture. How can we take something that is important and on the fore font of our students minds and bring it into the classroom? By doing so teachers send a simple message: “I care about your life outside of this classroom and I want you to share it in here.” When students hear this message they are much more apt to taking the time to learn whatever it is that you want to teach them. I leave you with this: What is currently the craze for your learners? What might you be able to capitalize on in order to have your own Silly Bandz moment with your students?