Saturday, December 20, 2008

Behold That Star!

In most classes I visit there are "star students". They just sparkle. You can spot them if you are paying attention to what "turns them on" academically. Suddenly they shine. Their fellow students know it too. It is my job to bring them out and "let them shine". Like the Rubik's inspired "BrainTwist" above, they are multifaceted with many sides, faces, corners and colors. The challenge is to find the ways to twist and turn the curriculum and assignments to bring out their best.
This figure starts out a 4-sided pyramid but has 8 star faces from light green to dark, from purple to magenta, from blue to yellow and from orange to red. It can be quite frustrating and take hours. It takes patience and tenacity...just like teaching.

This last class before the Holiday Break there was a little first grade "sparkler". I like to play my "Music Box CD" when they come into the room. I watch how different kids respond or don't. This particular girl was just transported and immediately became "a music box dancer". She twirled and swirled around the room oblivious to her peers and me. She was up on her toes but I could tell she had had no formal instruction. The rest of her "day" was magical. She was quick to respond to all assignments and questions. She volunteered to help others and was "caught" being "good" so she could have a better "fun friday". She was a shining gem...a pearl.

One of my favorite teachers was there and I spotted her at lunch time with her kids. She never eats lunch with the teachers so I decided to visit her in her room with a "gift". She likes to have her kids do poems, recitations and skits. So I brought her the classic poem I had printed up: "The Owl and The Pussy-Cat" by Edward Lear. This was a Broadway Play/Musical a few years back with my favorite actor, Alan Alda. I also brought her the masks that are needed to act it out in pantomime. (owl, cat, pig, turkey). We had just done it two times in our first grade class. They loved it. Some were more into it...especially the dancing. There are "star teachers" too. They are leaders on their staff's and not afraid to "take the roads less traveled"...and that can make all the a career.

I've noticed that recently a mega-star, Will Smith, has made another thoughtful movie for the holidays. I started this blog with his "Pursuit of Happyness" using the Rubik's Cube as my symbol of the difficulty of teaching/learning now days (with all the emphasis on testing) Now Will has come up with an equally powerful concept. "The Pound of Flesh" from the Shakespearean Play, "Merchant of Venice". He calls it "Seven Pounds" because he tries to help/make amends with seven strangers. I haven't seen the movie yet. It may be awhile. In the mean time, I'm going to continue to "help strangers" as best I can as a roving sub. Maybe I too will make up for some of my "errors" character. Hope springs eternal. RRR


Anonymous said...

Another Frost poem that has real meaning for me now...ends..."But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep." I'm finally stopping to enjoy "the woods" "a frozen lake" "a downy flake" "a Star"...and my hope is that I have "miles to go before I SLEEP"... so I can keep all my PROMISES. RRR

Anonymous said...

The "darkest evening of the year", also in the poem, means the "Winter Solstice" (12/21) which it is today, 2008. It is the longest night, shortest day...this is also ringing true for me. RRR

Anonymous said...

We just saw "Australia" and we loved it. Yes, it is too long, and like an "old fashioned" epic movie we used to see on "Panavision". It was beautiful for the photography. We also liked the plot and the main concept..."sing your own story to make it happen" The half-caste STAR was just awesome. It rings true to me everyday as I kids SING their own song/story of their life. RRR