Wednesday, August 13, 2008

And We Are Only Players

I'm reviewing some basics with my 10th grade students before we start this year's first novel. For simile and metaphor they created a simple formed poem and we added it into the beginning of the year intro/bonding stuffola.


I am copper
like a lucky penny
waiting to be found

This student is gifted with artistic talent and her poem's poster was a surreal, abondoned street scene done in all shades of grey charcoal. Except for the penny which gleamed like a speck of hope in the center. Not all my students can draw, but a clever kid collaged his poster and instead of writing out every word of his poem, he created a riddle with pictures. I'm obviously not as clever as he is, and although he presented his poem in class, when I went to grade it 10 hours later I sat there for 15 minutes, trying to decipher the thing, unwilling to admit defeat. I was so pleased with myself when I figured it out that I let our a spontaneous scream of delight that shot my Border Collie from his sleep and straight up towards the ceiling like a rocket.

I like this assignment as it gives me a glimpse of what I'm working with. A peek inside. I find out how many have transitioned into abstract thinking and how many are still trying to pull their feet out of the wet cement.

We moved on to reviewing theme and, as usual, there are many 10th graders who look blankly at me like I'm talking a foreign language. Even though theme was a focus for them in 9th grade. They all read Romeo and Juliet last year. So I try conducting a discussion on theme around Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers. For most of the classes this works, but one of my classes has more than its fair share of the sophmore class clowns. Five boys who feed off each other, usually with either that's what she said, or some version of YOUR MOTHER.

For this class, we leave Shakespeare behind because the class keeps coming up with plot examples.

How about love? What message did Shakespeare have about romantic love? Family love?

hoooooooooooo miss. That was MEAN when he went get with her in her parents house.

Hmm. Moving on. Or should I say backing up. Anyway, I ask the students what Disney movie they remember best from childhood. After a rousing debate they settle on The Lion King. I'm having better luck and a couple students throw out betrayal, finding your courage, power and leadership. But my boys are adding into the mix elephant graveyard, Zazoo, and my favorite, WARTHOG FARTS.

So we back it up a little more and I ask for a volunteer to summarize the plot of The Lion King. Get plot obsession over with. I'm planning on mapping backwards and then showing the students how we can use plot events as details in demonstrating the theme of betrayal in the story.

The leader of the clown pack offers to do a plot summary for the class. He asks me if I want him to come up in the front of the class and I'm all like nah, I think it's fine you share from your seat like everyone else.

So he starts off and within 5 seconds he introduces the hyenas by barking ferociously, follwed by a Mufasa ROARRRRRRRRRRR The kid's on fire. So I stop him. On second thought, DUDE, COME ON DOWN.

He uses the front of the room like a stage and does a Lion King rivival, complete with a narrator's voice and all the character voices. Body language like nobody's business. He had the kids riveted and in stitches. It was like he'd pumped triple expresso straight into their veins and funneled corn syrup down their throats. The class next door was out of their seats and trying to peek into my room. After the class applauded feverously at the end and I thanked him, he winked at me on his way back to his seat.

Like, Don't worry if you get a little boring now and then miss. I've got your back.

2 comments:

Laura said...

Sometimes we just have to loosen up and trust those kids. I had a student write a poem "To the Elder" which just nailed me.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

Thank-you Laura! You are my first ever comment!