Small success

I wish I’d had the camera with me in class yesterday.

I wasn’t in the mood to grade papers this weekend, so instead of a writing assignment, the kids’ bell work for yesterday was to take the giant magnetic poetry kit we’ve been developing and work together to write an original poem. I was prepared for the whole thing to degenerate into insane, pointless chaos, but the kids surprised me. Highlights from one class:

Five or six kids immediately grabbed the kit and gathered around the big tables in the center of the room to create a poem.

One boy — who usually doesn’t participate much — wasn’t keen on the idea of poetry-by-committee, so he and another kid took some of the cards and began making their own poem. His friend eventually lost interest and went to see what everybody else was doing, but this boy kept working diligently on his own.

Another boy got sidetracked by the new bulletin board I’d put up, which features an enlarged-and-laminated version of that Calvin and Hobbes comic strip where the food recites a soliloquy from Hamlet. This boy stood looking at the board for a long time. You know I wasn’t about to stop him. If I had more time on my hands, I’d turn the whole freakin’ play into a comic book. Maybe this summer….

A girl wasn’t interested in the poetry project, but she was completely engrossed in a novel she was reading. I didn’t have the heart to tell her she couldn’t read a novel in English class, so I just let her keep going.

Three kids were just straight-up goofing off, but that’s actually lower than the usual goof-off rate for that group.

I am learning again. I’ve always been leery of group work, because it seems like the kids spend a lot of time dinking around instead of working, but on those few occasions when I’ve let the kids work on their own, they’ve surprised me. The classroom feels chaotic, but when I call time, I’m always vaguely shocked by the amount of work the kids have managed to produce. I have to remember that this is not about what’s comfortable for me. It’s about what reaches the kids. If organized chaos works for them, how can I say no to it?

On an unrelated note, I went to see the kids play basketball last night. I am pleased to report that the JV girls, JV boys, varsity girls, and varsity boys all won their games handily. Go Warriors!

Next up: Rustle up some breakfast, spend the morning hanging Christmas lights at the Chamber of Commerce office with Ron and Zaphod and some of my National Honor Society kids, and then devote the afternoon to planning the details of my Hamlet unit, which starts after Thanksgiving.

Hope your weekend is good.

Emily

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