October is: pumpkins, leaves, apples, cider and of course, Halloween. The school doesn’t officially celebrate it, though the students have a fall dance. The art teacher has introduced Mexican skull and other autumn-themed painting.
And I sneaked in a little Shakespeare. “The Three Witches” scene from Macbeth (Act 4, sc. 1) provides a perfect intro to the Bard, and a fun way to experience figurative language in an easy to imitate rhyme pattern. I told students we were helping this 450-year-old writer add to his poem.
I enlisted the assistance of two other teachers to read the first 38 lines of the scene chorally, inviting the students to join in the famous “Double, double, toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.” I shared a student model of six lines, where Shakespeare’s verse was replaced with other gory words. I created a word list and a “mad-libs” form to complete with their own words. Rhyming couplets, I assumed, shouldn’t be too difficult. Some students got it right away and were able to help others. Some just couldn’t get past the idea that the poem’s didn’t “make sense” in their eyes. Two boys immediately noticed that the six-line verse had a beat and pattern, and said, “hey, it’s a rap.” Way to go, Will.
Here’s an example from one student’s verse:
“Blue crickets and lion’s milk
Buzzard beaks and spiders’ silk”
Hopefully I’ll get enough to fill the bulletin board in the hallway.
I gave students this prompt for their “Do Now.” Imagine it’s the year 2055 and you’ve been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. What did you do to get there? The answers were quite amusing, including:
-I’d be the oldest player still in the NBA
-I’d have been able to stay awake for 30 years
-I managed to stay 105 pounds my entire life
-I can walk on air
-I own the most purple items in the entire world
-I was the first person to die in a pot of soup
Sometimes you can trick kids into writing that actually makes them laugh.
I have assistants now in both classrooms so the discipline and individual instruction is easier. Four eyes and four hands are definitely better than two. I vented my frustration about the inane uniform rules, citing that one student was given recess detention for wearing white socks instead of regulation black. It could be argued that these kids need recess more than anything else the entire day and I felt this action showed little compassion. Families are busy; laundry isn’t always so easy to do. I offered to fund the purchase of some extra black socks to be kept in the office.
Progress reports go out this week so some students started working harder.