Getting their attention: some days, it’s the hardest part of the job. It’s no surprise; we live in an increasingly short-attention-span world. Keeping your classroom focused is no easy feat.
- Making the classroom or lesson fun
- Inspiring conversation
- Making lessons relatable
- Creating interest in the subject matter
Many of us can remember a teacher or two who was a “fun” teacher. Something you likely remember from those classes is laughter. Isn’t it remarkable that we can look back 5, 10, 20 years and still remember that feeling?
John Medina, developmental molecular biologist and author of Brain Rules, says, “As you no doubt have noticed if you’ve ever sat through a typical PowerPoint presentation, people don’t pay attention to boring things (Brain Rule #6). You’ve got seconds to grab someone’s attention and only 10 minutes to keep it. At 9 minutes and 59 seconds, you must do something to regain attention and restart the clock—something emotional and relevant.”
Humor, specifically cartoons, can help you in the classroom.
But Why Cartoons?
It’s simple; cartoons are the easy button:
- Your students pay attention to cartoons because even captive audiences enjoy humor, and cartoons appeal to people whose attention span can be measured in nanoseconds.
- Laughter triggers a release of dopamine into our system, and dopamine improves our ability to remember.
- Graphics are fun to look at and draw the eye. And the puzzle of linking visuals with words to understand a joke kicks the brain into high gear.
- YOU don’t have to be funny; cartoons do the work for you. The pressure is off.
If you’re a great storyteller, by all means, go for it! If you’re a little iffy on your ability to grab your students’ attention, cartoons can make your job easy.
Using cartoons in the classroom helps you connect with your class, start conversation, and make complex topics easy to understand. The dopamine surge your students receive from laughter or the hint of something unexpected invites attention. Laughter feels good; if you can make them laugh, they will be more open to listening to your lesson and connect you and your class with positive emotions, which is great for memory.
Three Perfect Spots for Cartoons in your Lesson
Let’s start with the very lowest of bars: keeping your students awake. Cartoons are one of the easiest ways to keep your class on their toes. Here are the best places to pepper your lesson with laughter:
After everyone has slowly settled in and shifted into class mode, surprise them with a quick laugh to get them interested in the lesson.
The Snooze Alarm
You did a great job getting everyone paying attention for the first few minutes. Alas, unless you have some really exciting information to share, slowly but surely, you’ll notice your students sneaking a peek at their phones under the table or mindlessly doodling on your handouts. Shake them up with another, even more surprising cartoon. As those who are still paying attention begin to chuckle in surprise, eyes will shoot up, and the room will be back in your thrall, on high alert for more fun to come. Add as many snooze alarms as your content requires.
The Mic Drop
Now that they are expecting it, you’ve got to end on a laugh. Really hit it out of the park with a hilarious cartoon tied into your topic. This is the final impression they’ll walk away with; make it a great one. Whatever your subject, you’ll find thousands of on-target cartoons on CartoonStock.com.
A great cartoon can tell an entire story in a single image and make your point with aplomb.