Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Second Thoughts

I woke up before five in the morning and couldn't get back to sleep. I was worried about the lesson I was going to be teaching later in the day.

The goal of the lesson was to teach kids how to write a strong conclusion to an essay. My plan was to tie in the lesson to some work I did with students a couple of weeks earlier. Two weeks ago I told them a story about my dog and it led to a thesis statement: People should always pick up after their dogs. The topic led to a lot of classroom talk about poop and turds. On multiple levels the lesson was a huge success.

Last night I stayed up late writing out four different concluding paragraphs for an essay using the dog poop thesis. None of them were great. Some of them were purposefully bad. The point of the examples was to show the students a range of writing techniques and to then analyze the strengths and weaknesses of each paragraph.

Between writing the paragraphs and standing up in front of the students, I changed my mind about 10 times about whether or not to hand out the conclusions to the class. Part of what went through my mind was, how is it going to play out if someone who doesn't know what we're doing gets a hold of the poop paragraphs. Am I going to be in deep doo-doo?

I taught the lesson as planned and it went well. The kids were so into it. They loved finding the flaws in my conclusions and telling me what I should have done differently. They especially liked moaning about how boring the longest conclusion was. "Boring!! Stop!!! There's more?! Argh!" I think they got the point. They didn't want to create that kind of reaction in readers of their own writing.

After my performance was done, they ALL wrote multiple conclusions for their own thesis statements, honing in on getting stronger and stronger concluding paragraphs with each attempt. I was quite happy.

Then the principal walked in. She occassionally pops into different classrooms to see what everyone is doing. She missed the poop talk by about 10 minutes. I don't think she would have minded. I will admit that I am relieved that today wasn't a day when prospective students and their parents tour from class to class, observing class activities. That would have been crappy.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't you mean "That would be poopie."?


December 19, 2007 3:19 PM  

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