One of my biggest challenges at the close of a school year is utilizing the little pockets of time that creep, into the day. So often there are deviations to the routine, from last minute fire drills to special celebrations and field trips. These are all necessary parts to the end of a year, but they create odd chunks of time. Often it’s too much to do only a little but not really enough to dig into something new. However, sometimes I find utilizing these precious minutes spontaneously can create momentum and excitement that makes for a really big payoff.
Recently I had the following scenario. We were coming off two weeks of testing, so stamina was pretty low for the heavy lifting of new learning. Two field trips in one week had also scraped away most of our energy. We had finished a math unit test review, cleaned up after an earned board game celebration, and a spontaneous fire drill had just occurred leaving me with about 40 minutes until the end of the day. Normally I would think, “This is a perfect opportunity for an extra recess and picture book read aloud.” However, there had also been some spontaneous rain showers followed by beautiful sunny skies. I wasn’t willing to buy into the risk of soaking everyone before packing up for the day. So instead we did the following.
“Class, okay, there is something I have wanted to do all year, and we have about a half hour before the bell rings. It might be just about perfect if you think you can get a jump start on a little project. What do you say we write some skits?”
We had a quick talk about what would be necessary, I developed a planning template on my computer with their ideas so they could get to work, but mostly, I just let them go. As I walked around the room, groups formed, and the writing process began. I had not seen this kind of volume in writing in a while in such a short amount of time, but the ideas were flowing, they knew time was short, and motivation was at its highest.
Take a look, and a listen!
These three each drafted their parts for their own characters in a line by line sequence. They had it a third of the way drafted by the time I walked over.
Each partnership and group surprised me with different ideas, collaborations, and their enthusiasm made it even better. It was a great reminder to sometimes just get out of the way. Even though we had not “learned” how to write a skit, this was not a unit I taught this year (although I might now) kids took all the things they did know and made creative and interesting stories they were fully invested in. It was definitely a moment of being back in a place of authentic writing, ideas floating throughout the room, and teamwork I had not seen in many weeks. Making writing made some memories.