Last night when I heard that Mandela had died, I was struck by how much emotion was displayed… and not just in South Africa. In the United States as well. This seemed to be a world-wide event… or maybe the reminiscing and reminders of how courageous and kind-hearted Mandela seemed were the event.
When I wrote lesson plans last week, I had no idea that it would be Mandela’s last week but I had planned to have my students (8th grade) do a mock writing assessment. When I came in the front doors after “greeting duty”, I saw 2 different Mandela headlines in our local paper that I receive on Fridays. I must’ve had some kind of stroke of genius (I’ve always been accused of flying by the seat of my pants) and at 7:45 decided to moderately change my whole day.
Instead of the pre-made example of the writing assessment, I created my own. I quickly found a video on History.com about Mandela being a fighter for freedom, a timeline of his life on abc.com & of course the 2 local articles. My students from these pieces of informational text, were to write an essay responding to this prompt: What do you think are the 3 most significant (impactful, important) thinks Nelson Mandela did/accomplished in his 95 years? Cite evidence from any/all of the informational pieces that we looked at today.
I am interested to see what my students chose. Partly because there is so much in Mandela’s life worth noting and partly because they thought it was “Sooooo haaarrrrdddd” to choose. They are so used to every detail being in front of them that many don’t know how to choose or even to have an opinion that is their own.
Well, anyway, aside from the idea from a few that I should have taught about Paul Walker instead (because that’s the same as Nelson Mandela’s 95 years?), I loved that I was able to fly by the seat of my pants and use some informational text and encourage my students to think! all because I was able to be (joyfully) flexible!