Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Edutaining in a House of Physical Education

Last week SUNY Cortland's APEM Club had the privilege of being the audience of a SUNY Cortland doctor from the Health Department who calls himself an Edutainor, Dr. Trunfio. "An Edutainor", he explains, "is someone who can incorporate humor and learning into the classroom...or is it a house of education because I know you physical educators are touchy with your terms". This was the moment in the session I began smiling and laughing for the next 60 minutes of his session. He says, as an educator you must "engage your students through entertaining them in education" and this is the key to holding their attention and keeping them on the edge of their seats. He encouraged us teachers to reach out to the masses and teach to the student. In your classroom there will be a multitude of ways that your students learn and it is your job to teach to each individual learner. To sum the different ways that your students will learn can be found in Gardner's Multiple Intelligence Theories. These theories include linguistic intelligence, logical-mathematical, musical, bodily kinesthetic, spacial, interpersonal, intrapersonal intelligences as well as the later added, naturalistic intelligence. Without edutaining to all of the masses, not everyone in your class will learn. It is your responsibility to educate everyone in your classroom. Dr. Trunfio stated, "Without entertainment, it's just information". So how do you incorporate this entertainment in your classroom and still educate your students?

To engage all of these different learners that could be in your classroom, Dr. Trunfio has developed something he calls the Laugh First Project. In this project he has created the acronym GOTCHA. GOTCHA stands for, Games, Openness, Tickets, Chaos, Humor and Abracadabra.

  • GAMES: Dr. Trunfio encourages to present the students with a challenge, game or (as a physical educator would put it), an instant activity to get your students roped into your lesson and engaged in what is going on in your classroom. During the session Dr. Trunfio had a few volunteers stand in the front of class to create a balloon animal following his instructions.

  • OPENNESS: Being open with your students and sharing your stories allows for them to see that you are human, just as they are. It brings you all to the same level and allows for your students to open up to you. Dr. Trunfio shared his embarrassing story of waking up late for a final exam on SUNY Cortland's campus and running to the classroom only to then realize he was taking the test in his underwear and coat. The idea of waking up late and having to get from the dorms to a classroom at SUNY Cortland was something we could all connect with at one point in time.

  • TICKETS: As soon as we walked into the classroom Dr. Trunfio was there to present to each of us a raffle ticket. My immediate thought was that we were all going to win a prize. This is what Dr. Trunfio wanted us all to think. He later told us that the tickets were to hold our attention and to keep us in the session until the end because we all expected to win a prize. He then told us we were not going to win anything but then gave away a t-shirt to one winner.

  • CHAOS: Movement is important for focus of your students. Dr. Trunfio was everywhere. He utilized every square inch of his floor/stage. He walked and ran up aisles as he was talking to us, reaching out to everyone in the class. It was hard for him to not put himself in the proximity of the students. He also created chaos in the room with his vioce being loud and upbeat. He was energized and used multiple props as if he were a clown in a circus. He eventually was wearing a rainbow curly wig holding juggling batons with a giant red ball for a nose.

  • HUMOR: The element of humor sets a curved line strait and is the shortest distance between two people. Humor was something that was always being incorporated throught his session. He told stories of what he has done in his past to create humor. One of which was how he has used caution tape on the door to see the students become confused and wonder how to get into the classroom. Eventually they figure it out but seeing their faces when they see you inside and the door taped off will instantly create humor for you as well as them. Another way Dr. Trunfio brought humor into the room was when he stood in front of the class with his juggling baton and told everyone that they had to stand up and applaud and yell as loud as they could and the louder everyone yelled, the higher he would juggle the batons. We all stood up and applauded and yelled as he threw one baton halfway in the air and let it fall. We all became silent as he confessed he didn't know how to juggle. He just wanted a standing ovation instead. He explained that laughing is all a chain reaction. As an edutainor, you only have to make a small handfull of your class laugh because when one person laughs, the person next to them usually laughs and so on. Laughter is contageous.

  • ABRACADABRA: Every time you step in front of your students you have the chance to create magic and not a minute of time should be wasted because when your having fun time flys. There is no reason why humor can't be implemented into each unit or lesson you teach. Dr. Trunfio demonstrated how laughter is a chain reaction by having 4 students lay on their backs with thewir heads on each other's stomachs as one laughed until they were all laughing uncontrolably. He then paused and told us how time flys when your having fun. As he pointed to the clock I realized that we had just finished sitting through his 60 minute session. He had fit everything that he wanted to say in only 60 minutes but so much had happened in that time and there wasnt a minute I wasn't paying attention or a thing that I didn't remember when I left the classroom.

Dr. Trunfio had utilized every minute that he had with us. He roped us in From the first minute and didn't stop edutaining until the 60 minutes was up. Educating through entertainment is something that I believe every educator should be doing. Given, there is a sense of professionalism and seriousness in educating but there are ways to make in memorable and fun for your students. To be a teacher that your students will always remember and to haave them rememebr all of what you taught you must capture and hold their attention. How will you bring your classroom to life? Dr. Trunfio brought his classroom to life through GOTCHA.. It is every educators job to bring their classroom to life. What are you waiting for? Start creating magic in your classroom today!

*Visit Dr Trunfio's website:

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