When my 6th grade class burst into the room last Monday afternoon, one of the class artists asked if she could draw on the back board. “Have at it,” was my response.
And Milvant, the buffalo, appeared. Once I had the class’s attention, I used Milvant’s picture as a spring board for some basic questioning in French. To my delight, I learned that another student, Emily, had actually written a story about Milvant, since he was ‘her buffalo’.
As she read the class her story, page-by-page in English, I translated in French. The surprise ending captivated the class because the buffalo ended up eating Emily, or something bizarre like that! (the unusual and unexpected stimulate the brain to pay more attention!)
At least two explicit benefits accrued to me from this activity:
- the students who had created the character and image of Milvant felt publicly validated
- dialoguing with my class in French about this spontaneous ‘news’ served as a high-interest warm up
A day later, the artist informed me while passing me in the halls, that the ‘author’ Emily had completed Chapter 2 of the Milvant story.
That sparked an idea for a final end-of-the year project. I think I’ll divide my class in to small groups so they can create their own original, illustrated and narrated story. I’ve been wanting to try out a new tech platform for student projects called ‘Snag-it’.
I’ll let you know how it goes! What should be evident from this account is the importance of grabbing and riding those spontaneous events that pop up in class.