Monday, February 06, 2006

Expect The Unexpected

Just as I plan for the unexpected when I budget household and family finances, I have learned to do the same when I stand in front of 25 to 30 high school students. I recently subbed for a sick English teacher. The lesson plan given to me was to ask the students to write about an event in their life that had a surprising outcome. I interpreted events like a family vacation that went wrong or a birthday party that was disappointing. I added an option for them to write about "The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier" in Arlington Cemetery. As I explained the assignment, the tomb required explaining to some students. Other students helped because they had visited that site. I asked if they chose to write about the tomb, then explain what it is, what it means to them, and how does it make them feel. I further explained there are no right and wrong answers. It's somewhat like art, I said. Our individual interpretation of objects is determined by our background, age, training, education, etc. I asked the class to take twenty minutes and write about their chosen topic. After that time I would randomly call names from the class roster and ask you to read portions of your writing. As the class started to write, I heard two boys and one girl seated near each other laughing and acting up. I moved into their vicinity to quieten them. When I approached them, one of the boys leaned forward and asked "Mr. Mabe, can I write about when I lost my virginity"? Without cracking a smile, I leaned down and said "I don't think that would be an appropriate topic. Now pick another topic and start writing". The group of three giggled and laughed at the boy's bravery.

After twenty minutes, students began reading to the class. I commented and remarked about their reading and praised them for what they shared. Other students reacted with comments about what was said. Over half the students chose to write about the tomb. Most who read their comments had impressive thoughts and articulate presentation. Some refused to share, a few didn't write anything, and one slept through the entire class. The class period was repeated five times.

Have a good day!



At 2/06/2006 7:52 PM, Blogger t browder said...

Here's a good one-
"Mr. Mabe,can I write about when I lost my virginity?"

Mabe: "Yes,son,wait until there are about 20 seconds left in the class period."


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