Change This, this, and this and Involve Youth

As Upward Bound was on the horizon, it was Friday night, and I was still on the search for the right lesson plan to delve into the book, Between the Lines by Nikki Grimes. Nothing much of substance existed on the internet that I was interested in, unless paying for a lesson unit. It hurt me to think there were no deep-diving lessons other than those to pay for, and I wanted something more appealing and off the cuff.

An idea hit me of using the writings of several individuals I knew from Paul Allison’s Teachers Teaching Teachers, specifically Samuel Reed – and somewhere the idea of journalism, credible sourcing from a teacher unable to attend on Saturday, and Between the Lines all began to appear out of nowhere. it is interesting that I am discovering true ideas for lessons are often inspirational, like music, lyrics, art, etc that is more effective than meeting state standards and instead, school librarians meeting students where they need to be inspired, moved, and motivated.

This was the plan- Banana bread

was baked at 6:00 AM to give to students at 9:30AM as they came into English class for Upward Bound on a Saturday. Think about that. Students, taking their Saturday, getting on buses as early as 7:30 AM on a SATURDAY, and creating some amazing things – how many students do you know have that drive? I was proud of the students before they even arrived.

As they were breaking banana bread, we introduced Nikki Grimes to them:

As students let this marinate, they looked at templates of a potential newspaper, each receiving a copy of Between the Lines and this was the game plan:

Blueprint of an idea

And we indeed looked through the book, first page 0-105 and then on the backside of the newspaper template, 106 to the end of the book. Some not have read the book yet, just picking one sentence that stuck out to them for some reason, jotting it down with the page number. Some were nervous about not having read the book before, we threw that out the window.

Skimming and seeing what catches your eye are some of the best prereading fun a person can have.

The thought of requiring students to choose APA or MLA as a page citation did cross my mind, I pushed it away for now. It was before 10:00 AM after all and on a Saturday.

Once that task was done, as music played in the background, students passed their papers to another, and that person looked at was had stood out to the previous student, and then both on the front and back, write a short passage (1-2 sentences) of what that chosen pulled quote meant to them or invoked in their minds. Once that step was done, students passed the paper again to another student.

This third student looked at what was before them, and chose an empty block, either drawing or describing what sort of image would go with this preliminary article, based on what was in front of them. This was done both for the front (covering pages 0-105) and the bask side, (pages 1-5- end of the books).

The next stage, passed to another student, and now, students would need to find one CREDIBLE source that would go along with all that they were seeing in front of them. What makes a credible source? That was the cool infused idea of my colleague was came down sick but thought of using OWL, and how I could incorporate that skill into this lesson.

Finally, students would look at all this and name what this newspaper would be called based on the information in front of them.

What was gained from all this? I loved the fact that this was done over 5 classes, where a combination of 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th-grade students all added to someone else’s ideas, not knowing necessarily whose thoughts were down (no names were placed on any of the templates)- and no grade level became in the way from each student adding to another’s idea and complementing and stretching their idea to a newer idea.

I liked the fact that this template could in fact be messy, just as reading sometimes, and sometimes skimming is messy and unorganized, as is writing, to get to a more organized finale. Yet, the process is not always organized and neat to get there – just as is life.

I loved the idea that students dived into a book and were comparing and talking about what they picked from the book, and INTERESTED at before 11:00 AM and picking their OWN pieces and choices of what stood out to them. Owning any part of a lesson, and morphing a final piece into a part of their own thoughts, should be a part of every single lesson ever presented to students,

Unless their own, their own contribution, sometimes, most of the time, seems a moot point over putting what the instructor wants and not sharing a part of who they really are.

What they came up with was pretty phenomenal, and worth the experimentation. Next blog post we will share the results, and I could not have been more envious of their ideas, loved it.

Additionally, despite feeling like death warmed over today due to allergies, crazy storms, and weather, was the information I was hearing on the radio, topics like environmental justice affecting Native Americans and Black Americans more than other populations, as well as the topic of the residents of what used to be Greenwood, part of the Tulsa Massacre, and the trial with individuals ages 101 to 107- this amazes me and inspires me to create circle discussions with students on these very topics.

I still am reeling from the creative genius these students exhibited on a day most people would not be even up, let alone out, to face mental exercises and some pretty amazing analysis of what they see and think about and yet they did and beyond. I can hardly wait to show you the results, and what lies ahead!

About Harry Brake

Employee of Woodbridge High School, Library Media Specialist, Media crazy! :)
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