powerful moments in education
Folk tunes drifted from the lips of my 4th graders as pencils scribed and minds churned. In the midst of our second day with old-time-musician-in-residence Jeff Warner, these learners’ thoughts were focused on how to bring words alive. Today was the type of day where the blended experience, the 21st century experience (with the 19th century in mind, you’ll find) was alive and multi-dimensional.
What a beautiful place- a place where students can experience the rich traditions, stories, folk songs and shanty songs of the past, while honing their own writing for…now? For the future? Who knows…regardless, I saw magic today and it must be put into words and shared so the world can feel what a 10 year-olds capacity truly is, when giving the connections, the modeling, and training, and guidance, and freedom…
Gathered on the rug, I continue reading from Lewis & Clark and Me: A Dog’s Tale by Laurie Myers. I am not planned. I admit it. All the correspondence and meetings and scheduling…and everything in prep of this week has left me hanging. But I do not fear. All I need to do is share some text, provide a focus, discuss, and DISPERSE-ready to conference. As I read to them, thinking like a writer, I notice 2 things. One is that the author uses a giant space with a wide diamond to signify a significant change in the text. The other was a perfect accident. My FAVORITE thing about teaching.
It was the scene where, in the peace of the night, a buffalo heads toward the camp, ready to trample. Seaman, the Newfoundland Dog, saves the day. (the whole book is from the perspective of the dog- a perfect segue to history told in many viewpoints) The author made the decision to write choppy. Short. Sentences. Not even complete. But she did this to create suspense. And not only did my kids recognize this, they embraced it. The challenge? “I am going to conference with some of you over your submitted Lewis and Clark perspectives blog posts. In the meantime, try it out! Can you break the rules of sentences to create suspense? Can you create visual spaces, perhaps with a graphic, to show a major transition?”
Yep. They did. And hands were all in the air to share their new party tricks. But that isn’t even the whole picture! See, in the meantime, kids were accessing technology for writing and conferencing, editing, revising… in a way I had never experienced. It was magic. Over KidBlog, many students were interested in my guidance for revisions. The assignment? Post something from the perspective of anyone on the expedition. This venue of publishing writing for learning of Social Studies became exciting and interactive, rather than something simply assigned and… flat. As I read each one, I became more amazed at their motivation and effort to take a variety of perspectives- and do it well. Even beyond this was the sheer magic of their comments and replies to each other via the blog the next day. There existed this parallel universe of multiple genres, techniques, and tools- one that I wish I had on visual record.
These are magical, current, engaged, soul striking classroom moments. You can’t test it. You COULD align it to standards if you really wanted to…..but then you wouldn’t have time to observe, reflect, and look forward to the next Writer’s Workshop.