Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I Believe in YOU!

Have you ever watched another teacher do a lesson and been so impressed and thought you could never plan a lesson that well? I had that experience this morning.

Each year our school celebrates Fall by having each K-5 homeroom choose a favorite book. Then each class uses pumpkins to bring that book to life. The book presentations are set up in the lobby the last week of the month for all the students to enjoy. For 15 years I have watched homeroom teachers go through this ritual in a variety of ways. Sometimes they simply give the project over to the homeroom mom and just ohhh and ahh when she brings in the perfect pumpkin presentation. Sometimes the teacher lets the children choose a book and then she or homeroom volunteer moms design the pumpkin. They might let the children help paint the pumpkin but the finished product is something unbelievable and almost wholly completed by the adults. However, today I was in Haley Alvarado's kindergarten class and her idea for this project blew me away and was unlike any I have ever seen!

The children had voted to bring the book The Three Billy Goats Gruff to life with their pumpkins which is truly one of their favorites. Each table group had chosen one of the characters to own. Haley invited in four moms - one for each table group. I'm not sure what the moms were expecting, but they were given the instructions to let the children help them decide what color to paint their pumpkin and then to brainstorm with their group how to make the ears, horns, nose, eyes or whatever they decided that the children wanted. I have always been a Special Education teacher and so the idea of giving that much control to the children made me shake in my shoes! I guess I am somewhat of a control freak and I was always the homeroom teacher who liked very calm, organized plans - most often where I knew exactly what the outcomes would be-especially with behavior. However, as Haley explained what the class would be doing the children were so-o-o-o excited. The moms took suggestions and discussed options until each team agreed on how to decorate their character. Some even took a vote when they couldn't come to consensus. What an incredible experience! The children were engaged and could hardly wait their turn to share their incredible suggestions. When the kids came back to the carpet, they couldn't stop talking about their great ideas! The children owned this project!

I applaud a teacher who really trusts children and who believes that they can far exceed any ordinary expectation we may set for them. Haley is that kind of teacher. She believes that children can make decisions and solve their own problems... and it shows.


Melanie Holtsman said...

I LOVE this! Even if you know it's good for the kids, it's hard for a teacher to give over control like this. Definitely a lesson that I had to learn through the years. And something that still challenges me.

I must applaud Haley in giving control of the project over to her kids and still allowing parent helpers to take part. I hope others will follow her example. Thanks for sharing!

Mrs. Lauren Skipper said...

I love them!!!

Suzanne said...

They are precious. Kudos to Haley for not only making sure small hands touched them, but decided on them, and implemneted their designs. They will be the hit of the show.