Out of Thin Air

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The other day, after driving up the mountain to buy apples to peel and freeze, “my boy” decided to try to catch butterflies.   They were beautiful and they were everywhere.   He is 5 and his logic is catching up to his enthusiasm ~ he ran from bush to bush and chased butterfly after butterfly until he finally figured out that it was easier once the butterfly had landed on a flower.   

Sometimes, my teaching is like this, too.   My enthusiasm needs to chill so my planning can catch up.   Sometimes I run around trying to “catch” my kids and “learn them something”.   And sometimes I plan and plan and plan and I still miss.    

Yesterday, though, I was in the middle of my lesson about how to write detailed, thoughtful answers to open-ended questions and I caught a butterfly out of thin air.   I was part way through, after having planned for a couple hours last week, and completely changed my whole process (anyone else experience these epiphany-type ideas?)…    Instead of just having my students write immediately after instructions, I had them write on a post-it what they were thinking.  Once they had done that, I put them in pairs to discuss their thinking.  I showed them examples and non-examples of useful feedback….. and only THEN did they write.    And you know what….  it worked… My kids, who just Monday thought writing more than yes, no, idk… those same kids told me today that writing wasn’t hard if they could think first….   “hello”… I’ve never done this before because?????     

So, yeah, it’s hard to catch butterflies out of thin air… and I don’t recommend NOT lesson planning just because we get some awesome ideas in the middle of class… but I rejoice when something good happens…. especially when I feel like I’m just chasing butterflies.

Happy butterfly catching!

~A

P.S.  Post-its (any brand) are an amazing teaching tool… if you don’t use them… you totally should 🙂    Just some friendly advice!

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