Thursday, October 15, 2015

Secondary Smorgasbord - All Treats & No Tricks for Teachers Blog Hop

Secondary Smorgasbord - All Treats & No Tricks for Teachers

All Treats & No Tricks for Teachers blog hop

Teachers Resource Goody Bags must always be reviewed, and updated with fresh material. The problem is- by the end of the day, or a non-stop week- who has the energy to mine their exhausted brains for engaging, challenging, and inspiring new ideas? 

The solution is nearer and easier than you can imagine.  Present the issue to your students. 

One late October day in my not-so-far-away past,  when my brain was clogged with fog that threatened to settle in and hibernate for a while, I asked my Creative Writing 2,3,4 students to, "... brainstorm some  ways that we can mine the buried creative veins in our minds for writing ideas." Their eyes started to ping and glow as their brain-gears chugged to life.  "And," I continued, "Figure out a way we make them easily accessible to the class."

The Lost & Found Idea Box was born.  Very simply, the students and I could add as many writing ideas to the box whenever we remembered a forgotten idea for a story, poem or personal narrative, concocted a fresh one, or found an idea from a printed/published source.

Kseniya, whose creative brain was always conjuring up -out-of-the-box (yes, I really wrote that) breakthroughs, led the class's planning session. Here are their results:
  1. Ideas or hooks had to fit on a 3" x 5" Index Card- either written, glued, stapled or taped.
  2. If the brainchild was not from their own minds, they had to cite the source.
  3. All items had to follow my class rules- No Swearing, No Graphic Violence, No Direct, Indirect or Implied Sex, No Drugs. Also, no text abbreviations or slang that promoted any of the above Nos. that I might not be aware of without interpretations from a kind but probably snickering, eye-rolling, How can she not know this? student.
  4. I would provide them with an empty copy paper box that they would all decorate whenever their creative muses inspired them.
Within a week, the Lost & Found Idea Box perched on top of a bookcase stuffed with novels donated from years of bookaholic students and my own collection. Multilayered with pieces of scrapbook paper, colored tissue paper, newspaper headlines, personally created and Internet found graphics and images, foam letters, feathers, mirrors and other local craft store purchases,etc., its very presence boldly lured students to explore its treasures.

The box was crammed with Index Cards revealing items like horoscopes, obituary clips, stories from any section of online and hardcopy newspapers and magazines. original opening lines from their pieces. quotes from a book that grabbed their interest, headlines, text messages, social media statuses, tweets, doodles in the margins of their notebooks, images from a graphic arts class, get the idea- from absolutely anywhere. 

The entries were only limited by the boundaries of the students' imaginations.And that is the key to student brain drain, When students are included in the planning, they are more apt to be hooked into learning because they feel their thoughts and ideas are valued.

Not only did my students allow items from Lost & Found Idea Box to inspire them, but so did I. Many times when my mind froze and I needed a Warm-up Prompt for my English 12, journalism or my Creative Writing 1,2,3 or 4 classes, I would sift through the  Index Cards until my brain pinged, "That's it!"

Here is a Halloween Freebie to add to your  Resource Goody Bag and to start your own classroom Idea Box - Comprehension and Writing Activity - Trick or Treat?

Thank you  Darlene Ann Curran  and Pamela Kranz for organizing this most excellent All Treats & No Tricks blog hop.

Enjoy a Teach It Now Day, Every Day,