Saturday, January 18, 2014

Is a lesson ever an "EPIC FAIL"?

I love experimenting with lessons and ideas as a teacher. I’ve had some AWESOME ideas, those total “ah ha” moments….and I’ve had some real bummers. One of my favorite books, personally, is The Phantom Tollbooth. Seriously, one of the BEST BOOKS EVER. Like, I could read it over and over and over again, and then get the urge to read it again. So, naturally, I decided to read it to my fourth grade kiddos. Because if Ilove it, they will love it, right?

It was an epic fail.

Well, I shouldn’t say “epic fail,” because the majority of kids found it to be an engaging fantasy tale. Just a handful actually got the wordy gurdy jokes and the various higher level thinking jokes. It kinda broke my heart. I would waste time trying to explain the jokes, but it just wasn’t the magical, life changing read aloud that I envisioned. It certainly didn't change any lives or become the "go-to" book for anyone.

A few years later I decided to try The Phantom Tollbooth again. This time, I had three kiddos who were like, seriously, 3 grade levels above the rest of the class. I switched up my game plan and did a literature circle type activity with just these kiddos and…it almost worked.

For my two young ladies in the group, it was MAGICAL. The connections, the questions, the laughter over word play…I was over the moon. Over. The. Moon.

For my fellow in the group, well, honey never finished it. He just wasn’t into it, and I didn’t force it. Maybe one day, but not today. (BTW, he wasn't really into much. He didn't write one single writing piece that I planned that year - instead he wrote a novel. He didn't read any of the guided reading book I selected - instead he read Lord of the Rings. How can you tell a fourth grader to stop writing a novel? How can you yank Lord of the Rings out of his hands? I couldn't. I didn't.)

Well, you can’t win them all. But, I did find a TON of inspiring and wonderful quotes from this text to include in my newsletters for the rest of the year! SCORE!

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