Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Soon It will be Morning in my Classroom...

Well, my weekend of revitalization paid off. I can now see past the state testing to the new horizon: my classes after Spring Break. The state testing will be over, yet it won’t be the tougher, keep ‘em in their seats weeks of late May and June. There will be a few, short, sweet weeks when the content of the curriculum can be more fully mine. I can indulge the kinds of lessons that made me want to be a teacher and quite frankly, those lessons will work because my students will have some writing competency built up from the institutional rigor I’ve used up to this point.

In some ways, the freedom makes me dizzy. Since April is National Poetry Month, I’m leaning towards a poetry unit. I discovered the Poem in Your Pocket movement, and it dovetails nicely with my latest thrilling book discovery: How to Make Books: Fold, Cut & Stitch Your Way to a One-of-a-Kind Book, by Esther K. Smith. This book would have changed my life when I sponsored the school literary magazine; it still may change my life. Smith calls the first book an instant book, and to me, it is a paper folding miracle. Using an 8 ½ x 11 inch piece of white paper, Smith shows readers how to make eight folds and one cut to have a six page miniature “zine.” No glue. No stitching. The best part? It uses images from only one side of the piece of paper, so feel free to Xerox the content and fold away for cheap and darling mass production. Amazing. One of the big components of teaching writing pedagogy is publication, and this technique makes it easy and satisfying to reach that point.

The state objective, “Students will gain an appreciation for literature,” graces many of my lesson plans, but rarely do I get to make it the main thrust of my content. I know that some of my students will groan and that they may not react with the same energy and enthusiasm for a poetry unit and pocket poem mini-books that I have, but at the very least, units like the one I’m planning offer me a chance to be excited about reading and writing in front of them. I can hardly wait…

co-posted on Between Classes: Living a Balanced Life as a Quality Teacher

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