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Thursday, May 12, 2016

All the stars align...

Every once in a while, something magical happens...

All the stars align...

And every part of a lesson seamlessly comes together.

I would love to say this happens intentionally.

I would love to be that intentional.

I'm not, especially this time of year, and despite trying to be more and more intentional over time.

But it happens anyway on occasion.

Today was one of those days.

We have been working on coordinating and subordinating conjunctions.

We have also been reading the novel Speak.

In conjunction with the novel, we have been reading selections from a book of essays about bullying written by published authors (I can't recall the exact title right now).
Our Do Now was simple: copy down a sentence and identify the conjunction and the dependent clause.

The sentence was unrelated to anything else--it was about EOCs because today was our last day of funky monkey testing schedules.

Here is where it got cool though.

After the Do Now, we read one of the selections.

It is called "Innocent Bully" by Lauren Gerber.

It is a narrative poem, written in the second person, in complete sentences.

This was a perfect fit for several reasons.

First, narrative writing is our focus for the year and it is always valuable to remind students that stories come in all shapes and sizes.

And, as I said to a student in response to a question about reading in class today "Stories are the basis of all human civilization."

Second, the perspective was really unique. It is rare to find effective stories written in the second person.

This story is not only written in second person, it made me, and my students, genuinely question ourselves.

I can't imagine anyone reading it without wondering if s/he had ever been an innocent bully.

Finally, the structure of the poem is perfect for reviewing and reinforcing conjunctions.

The whole poem is written in complete sentences and riddled with a variety of conjunctions.

Most of the line breaks come between the clauses too, so almost every line starts with a conjunction.

It was just perfectly tied into both of the other portions of the lesson.

First, I read the poem out loud.

Then we wrote and discussed our personal responses to it.

Next, we discussed how it relates to the novel.

Then we read the poem again.

We read the poem to identify conjunctions and look at how they were used.

Finally, students wrote sentences of their own that included a conjunction related to the piece and our discussion.

I hadn't really planned to review conjunctions in such detail, but it worked.

Like I said, I wish I was this intentional on purpose every day because it is a very good thing.

All I can do is treasure the times when everything aligns and use those lessons as inspiration.

Inspiration is also a good thing!

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What do you think? Does this good thing remind you of a story of your own? Have a question or comment? Please leave a comment!