Sometimes in the classroom everything goes just right. And when this happens, the wise teacher notices, leans in, and basks in the moment. This entry is inspired by such a moment, a moment which happened today.
Our language arts lesson centered around metaphor - what metaphor is, how it is used, and the impact it can have on a piece of writing. To experience the power of metaphor, I turned off the lights and read the poem "Wynken, Blynken, and Nod." The students sat in wonder, envisioning the dreamy imagery of the poem. I left out the final stanza, which reveals the meaning behind the metaphors in the poem. We discussed parts of the story that didn't seem literal -- sailing in a wooden shoe, fishing for stars, a talking moon, etc. The students made guesses about what the elements could be standing for. This conversation created a feeling of curiosity and wonder in the room, so that when I finally read the last stanza, the students "oohed and aahed" at finding out the meaning of the poem.
Keeping this dreamy mood going, I invited the students to write about "fog." I told them they were to spend 20 minutes writing, using as much description of the fog in their story as possible. The room stayed dark and silent as they wrote. "Please can we share our stories when we're done?" a student asked. "Sure," I said. And why not? How often is every child intrigued and engaged by a literary activity?
From the first sentence of the first story, it became clear that these "foggy" stories were going to be on the creepy side. So we kept the lights low, and brought a flashlight into the mix.
And so it went. They read their stories, each writer holding a flash light for effect as he/she read. Their stories were indeed creepy, mysterious, and overall quite intriguing. Some were able to use the fog as a metaphor -- for blindness, for confusion, for a memory. Some used metaphor to describe the fog. Take, for instance, one writer who referred to the fog as a "blanket of darkness." One story was so exciting that we even acted it out!
It was a moment to revel in, and revel we did.
Little people, big minds.