Like any teacher, I love a good lesson. I love it even more when it was a last minute activity created in the wee hours of the morning.
Such was the case today. Here’s the background. I had the great opportunity to attend a 2-day training on Jane Schaffer’s writing program. I immediately went out to buy red, blue, and green ballpoint pens. Alas, green pens are not easily acquired. Our local Staples closed. So did our Office Max. Only Office Depot is left, and the only green pens they had were in three packs. To get 30, it would have been almost $40! I came home and immediately searched Amazon. Let me just say that green ballpoint pens with caps (no clicking!) are hard to come by.
I am by no means OCD, however, I do need things in the classroom (and at home) to begin only when I have the right materials. The expository essay plan I am itching to introduce to my students is going to have to wait.
The sad fact of no pens left me without a lesson for today. I went to bed unsure of what I was going to do with all my seventh graders the following day; I woke up this morning with an inspired plan. I love when that happens! I got to school an hour before the first bell, which is my typical routine. But this morning, I raced around, cutting pieces of butcher paper, writing topics on half pieces of index cards, and figuring out how to present the idea of thematic statements.
I started with two definitions:
- Topic/Subject: a single word
- Thematic Statement: A complete sentence that represents the topic. It is stated as a universal truth.
I ended this with an example.
- Topic: Friendship
- Thematic Statement: Strong friendships make a person’s life more fulfilling.
Next, I introduced the idea of a “reflective statement”. I asked them what they see when they look in the mirror.
“Myself!” “Me.” “Myself.”
The discussion of what they see, compared to their three-dimensional self, was the point. They see a reflection of themselves, but it is not actually them. It’s a mirror image.
Once the foundation was laid, I had the students elect one person from their table groups to come get their piece of butcher paper, three topic cards, and two different colored poster markers. Back in their groups, I modeled how to organize the information (see pictures).
They then got to work. They used thesaurus’s and worked hard to make sentences that sounded ‘smart’. Strong vocabulary to create great thematic statements. Synonyms and strong vocabulary to create the reflective statement.
These kids came up with some excellent thematic statements, but more than that, they really seemed to get it. And now, because they put each other’s thematic statements in their ISNs (Interactive Student Notebooks), they have an amazing reference tool for their writing.
It was a fantastic day!