Today, out of necessity, I had to scrap a plan and invent another without notice. For teachers, this is something that happens with some regularity and most of us pride ourselves on our flexibility. And I love it when that spontaneous plan blossoms into a wonderful learning moment.
We always have picture books at the ready to read to our class. Some are set aside for specific purposes and lessons, others we know we want to read but are waiting for the perfect time to present itself. Last year we read Spoon by Amy Krouse Rosenthal–a book that our students loved. We revisited it a number of times throughout the school year for different purposes…from mentor sentences to a situation for opinion writing.
At the end of the year, I came across a new book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal: Exclamation Point. So today, in that moment when I needed a plan at a moment’s notice, I picked up Exclamation Point, reminded my returning students (two thirds of them) that this was the author of Spoon, and started to read. I love those moments when each student’s attention is fully engaged…and they were hooked by the bright yellow cover and the whimsical smiling exclamation point. They noticed right away that there wasn’t a title…at least not written in words. The exclamation point itself stood as the title.
We read and discussed and noticed and connected all the way through the book. We delighted in the words and the pictures and the message. And we were inspired to write our own stories about punctuation.
And then later in the day we managed to get packed up and ready to go home with enough time for a book before the dismissal bell. Overwhelmingly, students wanted me to read Spoon. It was sitting near Exclamation Point…and suddenly today became the day for a mini author study. The second and third graders were treated to an old friend, and the first graders were anxious to get acquainted!
After reading, students volunteered their observations, connections, reactions, reflections. They had so many thoughtful comments and ideas for their own writing. And one student pointed out that Amy Krouse Rosenthal wrote about ordinary things…in wonderful ways. We started thinking about all the ordinary things we might write about and how our writing could transform them beyond the ordinary. They were excited to write as the dismissal bell rang today…I hope they sustain that excitement long enough to actually get to the writing.
I’ve also been noticing the power of the ordinary. Yesterday’s post was about the transformation of an ordinary photo into something I was willing to name as art. And today on five minute friday the prompt is ordinary. Today in the classroom the ordinary business of reading a book because an extraordinary opportunity to notice the magic of writers and writing…and turned students into active learners making meaning for themselves. Today I was reminded that ordinary is a state of mind, and each of us has the power to re-look and re-see the ordinary in new ways. I love when that wonderful learning moment in the classroom means that I learn too!