In first hour today, the kids begged to do a “fun” activity. Really, they wanted to something like a craft for Valentine’s Day. I heard them. We have been doing the mentally taxing and not creative nonfiction reading. I was feeling that pull as well. The pull to do something creative. Yesterday, just because I wanted to do something fun,I made a friendship bracelet with knotted hearts. I haven’t done something like that in years. Anyway, in the classroom, I wanted more interaction and I really wanted to get the kids back to their writing choices. So, I updated my lesson with some digital responses and introduced searching for a slice of life with my piece of writing, “Searching for a Slice.”
For the digital responses, we updated a boring lesson on writing factual and debatable questions for our research topics, to an interactive commenting lesson where students could post their own questions and see the rest of the class’ questions as well. It was fun in the way that it was something new. We hadn’t done response work like this before, and we learned some things about the operation of Google Drive, for example, only a certain number of people can comment on a common document at the same time. Also, I can post a main comment and then the kids reply to that comment, so common ideas are nested together. The kids left first hour telling their friends that Language Arts was fun, so for me, task accomplished.
With a few minutes left in class, I had kids set up a Slice of Life folder in their Drive. I quickly shared some notes about writing a slice of life and some example slices that I’ve written that they could relate to. I sent my earlier and shorter classes out into their worlds to observe possible slices. My later and longer classes had some writing time. I shouldn’t be surprised, but I was. The small trinkets that they came up with were lovely. They showed that pull for something creative, but also the desire for comments on their writing. They showed class writing techniques that we used in more traditional essay writing, and they never complained. Some were uncomfortable, with a common statement that “nothing exciting happened to me today.” But, they were all able to write something. I responded to all of my writers with words of praise and for some a quick next step that led from the work they had already accomplished. It was very fun – introducing the concept to kids, reading kids work, and responding digitally. It lifted the February funk and will liven up our days to come as I continue and introduce commenting on others.
So, as kids wished for “something fun,” I was happy to accommodate on that cold February day.
We started a new unit today. Each time I begin a new unit, I find myself anxious and this time was no different. I find myself making sure that the expectations are being upheld and that students are still making choices and decisions guided by teaching and conferencing. I also like to consider the other experiences they have has thus far, in my class but also in orher classes.