Monday, April 30, 2012

A Stolen Idea...Or Two...

Another great day in Room 224!  We were back on our "regular" schedule...meaning, we are back to balanced literacy, writing, and Texas History...minus the test prep!  The one thing that I have been strongly lacking in is Texas History. ::hangs head in shame::

Now, I love history, especially that of our great state...but, it is not my focus most of the year.  I just cannot cover it the way I want AND prepare the kids for testing.  I'm not going to out anyone, but I am not the only teacher in Texas that feels that way.  (Yes, I'm a follower...) :-).

So, today we hit Texas History HARD.  We started with some vocabulary that my quarters learned at the beginning of the year.  We created this really cool foldable that lists different levels of government, their definition, and the names of the actual leaders!  This was fun!

Pretty cool, huh??  We compared the different positions in government to our classroom, school, district, and region.  But, the quarters still had difficulty comprehending the, time to "teach on the fly"!  I pulled out the construction paper and used an idea I have seen on Pinterest!!! ( I just looovvveee that site!)  I don't remember WHO came up with the idea, though!

I didn't have a lot of construction paper, so we used what we had left over! (In case you can't tell by the black and manilla!)  They had the chance to see how our neighborhood is part of our city, county, state, country, continent, and planet.  Pretty neat!

Now, before we moved on to our read aloud, I wanted to have my quarters complete an activity related to "empathy".  This idea is completely stolen borrowed from Farley over at Oh' Boy 4th Grade !!! She has some of the coolest ideas!

I created a "new student".  His name is Horace Smith.  (I tried to figure out the weirdest name offense to any Horaces out there!)
All I had was GREEN paper!!!!!

Anyway, I asked students to welcome him to our class and talk to him like he was real.  We discussed what to do in the classroom, what our routine is, etc.  Then I gave him qualities...his lights are off and he can't wash his clothes.  His water isn't working because his mom is out of work.  These are actual things that many of my quarters have experienced at one time or another.  They are also things that they have teased others about!  And, just like Farley's classroom, the negative (even cruel) comments started coming!!  Now, many of them have said mean things to each other throughout the year.  There have also been some teasing incidents that my team teacher and I have shut down.  So this lesson had meaning...

I actually had one student say, "Horace, you need to get more popular clothes 'cause you look bad."  Then, she looked at me and said, "Well, I'm just trying to help him!"  And she was pretty condescending about it.  I was really flabbergasted!!!  They said he smelled and had holes in his pants.  Just. Plain. Mean. 

We have an issue with the "Cheese Touch" game from Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  Except our quarters take it even further...they add another quarter's name to it, i.e. the "Tammy Touch".  UUGGGHHH!!!  We have battled this all year.  This lesson really hit home!

As the quarters said ugly things, I crumpled Horace into a ball.  I then went on to explain (like Farley) that every ugly comment hurt Horace and crumpled up the way he felt.  Silence.  Literal...silence.  I could tell how they "got it".  Then, we began to say nice things to Horace.  We straightened him back out.
Then...we had to discuss how he was still "wrinkled".  We talked about the "Cheese Touch" game and how that wrinkles the person you are teasing.  And once you say those hateful words, it is impossible to make someone "flat" again.  Horace will never be the same.  Powerful.

Well, we were actually able to connect this lesson to our book, The Hunger Games.  (If you're new to my blog, please see my reasons for reading it HERE .)  We talked about empathy and how the Capitol has "wrinkled" the Districts.  We also talked about how empathy led Katniss to volunteer for her sister, Primrose AND how it helped her to make a connection with Rue from District 11.

I love when we can make LOTS of connections with just one idea!!!

"Compassion is the capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else's skin...the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy for you." Frederick Beuchner


  1. The Horace Lesson brought tears to my eyes. Such a great idea.

    I've had issues with my third graders playing the "cheese touch" game and adding other student's names. UGH. Makes me so mad!

    Adventures of a Third Grade Teacher