Day five – successes and ‘other’

Today was a learning experience.

I learned that, despite saying he has trouble with sustained writing, Adam is able to write for ten minutes straight. We did some more creative writing today, the prompts were:

  1. If I could have one superpower it would be. . . because. . .
  2. “A shadow crossed in front of the sun, I looked up and saw. . . “
  3. Which are better, ninjas or pirates? Why?
  4. Free write

I wrote about number three, then moved on to number one. At the end of ten minutes (during which we both wrote the entire time) I stopped and was about to tell Adam to find a place to finish when he looked up and started to talk about what he wrote. I asked if he was finished and he said “No, just one more!” He wanted to write!! He was into the topic and was enjoying himself. Hooray! This is my favorite thing: the fact that Adam told me that he can’t write for a long time but is still at it after ten minutes. As we go on I’m seeing just how much motivation plays in his image of himself as a writer/reader. He has the skills, but thinks of himself in terms of being alliterate – he doesn’t want to use them. As a teacher it gives me a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction to find ways to inspire students to want to use the skills they have and want to improve them (though let’s just start with wanting to use them). I will make sure that Adam is given this opportunity for writing each day. It is certainly a positive writing experience for him (and me!).

I also learned that I didn’t have a clear purpose in mind when I decided to incorporate poetry. That part of the day fell kind of flat. We talked about what makes a poem a poem (Adam has a pretty good handle on that) and I showed him a poem in prose format and then in it’s intended format, he said that the poetry format was better which led to an interesting discussion about why that was so. Then we watched some YouTube videos of Shel Silverstein poems. Then we watched a video of “The Giving Tree” and on the way down at the end of the day talked about what it ‘meant’, he had a good interpretation (giving of yourself is good but you can give too much). So we totally got away from poetry. As soon as I started the conversation about poetry I knew that my plan was terrible and started thinking of ways to make it better (didn’t really come up with anything obviously) or get away from it (thank you YouTube). I know that poetry isn’t my strength, I teach it, and I tell my students that it isn’t my favorite. I don’t really know why I thought it was a good idea. Well, that’s not completely true. I’ve read about, and seen on her DVD, how Penny Kittle uses poetry to open class and get students thinking like writers – I want to do that in my class next year. I really need to think about what that looks like more and be more aware of the goal for the day in the selection of the poem(s) I choose to use. Even though this part of my plan stunk, it wasn’t a waste. I learned that Adam has some knowledge of poetry, and literary devices (personification within The Giving Tree). I learned that if I am going to use poetry, it will require more thought and planning then if I stick to prose. I also learned that I want to try this again, this is a perfect opportunity to test out what I want to try next year.

Adam decided to create a  fake Facebook wall for Brian from Gary Paulson’s Hatchet. I showed him the site, and let him go to it. He is really into it. This is a great way to create a character study, check for comprehension, and motivate Adam to read. After a comment that led me to believe he might work on this at home, I told him that we’ll I don’t expect him to work on this on his own and he replied, “But it’s so fun”. Hooked! I’m pretty sure that I’ve found some good motivation for Adam to continue to read Hatchet. I know that I’m interested in technology and that 13 year-olds are almost constantly plugged in somehow, that is why I try to use technology as a teaching tool when I can. It provides a great way to engage the learner, as I saw with Adam today. Looking back on the other choices I’m glad he picked this one. It will be the easiest to share with his family and with my learning community at USM. More and more I’m realizing that this is an important part of how I see my role as a teacher, student, and professional. Students don’t always want to show their parents their work, having a project they are really engaged in or a project that is easily shared with the parents digitally, is a great way to approach this issue. As a student I want to see what others are doing, show them what I’m doing and see how I can help and get help. As a professional I want to create resources for others to take and make work for their own use. My teacher coat of arms included the word “Collaboration” and I’m learning that I really picked a word that reflects my beliefs in so many ways.


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