Thursday, January 7, 2010

January 7th

I write lesson plans every week, trying to make sure everything is planned out ahead of time. Of course, I've never really been a last minute, let's just wing it, kind of gal. But today I made a couple of last minute changes to my lessons...and they both turned out surprisingly well.

In the morning, during language arts time with the seventh graders, I had planned on working through narrative paragraphs and then some reading out of their literature textbook. As we were transitioning from religion class to language arts, I just wasn't feeling it. I was really feeling the need to do something light...something fun! Something that even the kids would enjoy. And what do the kids like? NOT going to school!!

So, I announced to the class, "Let's do some poetry!!" Ah yes...those were the groans I was hoping to hear! I explained that they would each be writing a poem with the same theme, which I would give them. "But," I added, "before I give you the theme, let me read you a few examples." I maintained a seriousness that you would expect to hear when reading a poem by Wordsworth or Longfellow or Whitman. And then I began..."Homework, I love you..."

It took a moment or two, but eventually they caught on to the...well....lack of seriousness with this poem. And what followed was some good old-fashioned poetry fun!! Their assignment? To write an excuse as to why they can't come to school, but to write it in the form of a poem. I shared with them the idea behind Shel Silverstein's Sick (I didn't share the actual poem, as I didn't have a copy of it handy...I do now!) We worked with a few sample "excuses" for practice, then I let them have some individual time to get started on their own. A few kids were having trouble getting started, so I put them into their peer edit groups and asked them to help each other. Things got loud rather quickly...but it was a really, really good loud!! They were all totally into what they were doing. Pens and pencils were flying across notebooks, arguments about what rhymes and what doesn't were criss-crossing my classroom, but poetry was being written! With lots of laughter!!

I can't wait to see what they come up with!

The other change I made was to a social studies lesson. I had planned on doing a review of the section in the book they'd just read. Had a "lovely" powerpoint planned and everything. Again...just wasn't feeling it. So, during their Spanish class, which is right before social studies, I added several new slides to my powerpoint. All of a sudden, my powerpoint review turned into a game show. Not intentionally, mind you. I just had one review question on each slide and pulled a student card to have kids answer the questions. It was the kids themselves who got a bit competitive. And I decided to just go with it. I'm so happy I did. Even a couple of the "quiet" kids got into it!!

Some fun learning today!

Photo: Magnetic Poetry by surrealmuse


  1. What a great on-the-fly moment! Marty Kelley's books are good too! Nice meter, a little irreverent, but fun!

    Rock on McTeach!


  2. I love it! I need to try this one out with my fifth graders, this year's group would get a kick out of it.