I’m not the best at incorporating Pinterest gems into my classroom, but every once in a while I’ll give it a shot. My homeroom was tasked with decorating our classroom door. The theme: Community. I found this cool idea on Pinterest and I thought – simple enough. The kids can decorate these sweet paper dolls to represent them and we’ll put them on the door.
I swear, this kid only made this to piss me off.
In Language Arts class we are currently talking about how supporting details help to develop the central idea of a text. The lesson started off okay, and then, like everything else that happens within the walls of a middle school classroom, things quickly spun out of control.
I addressed the class, “I know the topic of this passage is ‘wolverines,’ but as I read, I need to ask myself, ‘what about wolverines?’ to find the central idea.”
We read the passage and then I asked if anyone had any ideas about what the central idea could be. I got several responses:
Student 1: “It’s about how wolverines are fierce creatures.”
Student 2: “It’s about how wolverines fight for their food.”
Student 3: “It’s about wolverines having conflicts.”
Student 4: “I sexually identify myself with a wolverine.” (I had so many follow-up questions…but was afraid to ask.)
We also read a passage about how elements of Steven Spielberg’s childhood are reflected in his movies. One paragraph talked about his memories of seeing films about Davy Crockett. In each class, 2-3 kids had heard of Davy Crockett. Not a single student knew anything about him or who he was. I tried to give them hints, in hopes that they had learned about him at one point and had perhaps forgotten.
Me: “What if I told you that he was nicknamed, ‘King of the Wild Frontier?’ What might he have been known for then?”
Student 1: “I know. Isn’t he they guy that invented syrup?”
Student 2: “Wait. He’s that wild man who was killed by an alligator.”
Me: “I think you’re thinking of Steve Erwin, the Crocodile Hunter.”
At which another student piped in to clarify: “And he wasn’t even killed by an alligator, stupid. He was killed by a sting ray.” (They proceeded to bicker for a bit – but still didn’t know who Davy Crockett was.)
Me: “Davy Crockett was a frontiersman. He explored the wilderness and wore a coonskin hat. The song about him says he killed a bear, when he was only 3 years old.”
Student 3: “Oh. Was he on Bear Grylls?”
Student 1: “So who was the one who invented syrup?” (Hours later – with the help of a colleague, I realized she was thinking of Betty Crocker.
Another paragraph talked bout the techniques Spielberg used when making his films. I asked the class, “What do you suppose the author means when they say ‘techniques’ in reference to making films?” They had no idea what I was talking about. I tried to clarify. “What kinds of techniques do filmmakers use? What kinds of things make a movie visually stand out to you? What kinds of things really dazzle our eyeballs when we are watching a movie on the big screen?”