It started out as an ordinary writing lesson..."Take out your writing notebooks, blah, blah, blah..." Until I realized that the lesson I'd left for them to try out while I was absent the past two days was a little bit of a flop. We're reading a play in our basal reader this week, so they were supposed to write a play scene. After questioning the kids, I realized that a large majority just weren't comfortable or familiar with this genre, so I changed the lesson on the fly and we began to compose a play scene together as a group. It went something like this...
A class full of excited children rush down to the carpet and begin eagerly raising their hands, wondering to themselves what had come over their teacher...
Teacher: Who are the characters?
Student 1: (shouting excitedly) Bob and Larry!
Teacher: Okay, great! What's the setting?
Student 2: World War 2, in a bomb shelter!
Teacher: Okayyyyy (She nervously types the student's response on the board, hoping it is okay to reference violence in the class-created play scene) So, what are Larry and Bob saying to one another?
The children and teacher develop a short play scene which involves Bob and Larry in a vegetable verses fruit war, and ends with everyone living happily, although painfully ever after. After the play scene has been written and revised a chorus of excited voices begin to inquire one thing from the teacher.
All Students: Can we act it out now?!
Teacher: (checking her clock to see that she hasn't completely ruined the day's schedule) Definitely!
This, my friends, was when the "chaos" part of our creation began to ensue. You would've thought I'd just given them all a $100 bill! They were so excited. The first three people on the classroom "turn cards" got to choose their parts, while the rest of the class became the fruit and vegetables in our "war." A mad dash to find shields (beanbags), swords (rulers), and tactical positions within the room became the focus for a few minutes until the play started.
Somewhere in the middle of this my control-freak alarm was blaring insistently to quiet the children or to at least try to calm them...but then I looked at them. I mean, REALLY looked at them. I don't know if I'll ever forget what I saw during this impromptu lesson. Every child excited. Every child smiling. Every child having fun. Every child engaged in what we were doing. All I could think was, "This chaos is a little scary, but WOW!" What an awesome experience.
It's something that can't easily be replicated unless the teacher is willing to step outside his/her comfort zone, throw out the lesson plan when needed, and just grab those teachable moments when they come along. I'm so glad I did it today.