Slice of Life: A Lesson Gone Awry

It’s Monday morning, and I’m ready for a great day of reading and writing. My students have different ideas.  I’d imagined furious note taking on Colonial Times that would have followed my groundbreaking lesson, did not come to pass. We ran aground.

Students resisted. Maybe it was the nature of the writing: genre specific and content driven. Or maybe it had to do with the task:  students were to do, read across texts look for information, take notes, connect dots, flesh out their thinking,  and write their ideas. Or maybe it had to do with the day of the week, the time of the year.


“This is hard! Mrs. Harmatz!” That’s how it felt all day.

When students push back, I consider outcomes.

  • Limited conversations
  • Solo attempts with notebooks are a struggle

I consider my intent.

  • Content and text is complex but doable
  • Notetaking and talk will build understanding

I revise my process.

Tuesday morning. Chart paper and markers. Each partner is given a pen and asked to write everything they know about the topic. They can read, look at each other’s notes, look at my notes and talk.

Students sat side by side negotiating for a spot to write their learning.

Their learning and tentative thinking are visible.  And I can see, the challenging nature of this work.

Tomorrow we will sit and think and talk. And push our thinking by asking questions of our learning:

  • How do geography and climate affect how people live?
  • How do attitudes toward religion impact people?
  • What might be some predictable problems colonists will face?

And then, we will write.

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers for this venue to reflect and grow my practice, to look a little closer and see what students can do.

Read more slices here.

3 thoughts on “Slice of Life: A Lesson Gone Awry

  1. The end product and that fun learning day will make all of this hard work pay off. But it doesn’t make it easy.

  2. I love that, just by changing the lens (“tell me what you DO know about the topic”), they were able to write so much! I love that you are so reflective with your teaching and allow yourself that opportunity to reflect and revise and then to do it again. Awesome! Thanks for sharing!

  3. I felt the wave of change in your words. Sometimes, our best intentions are just that — ours. Good teachers know how to see this and adjust their sails accordingly. You did just that!

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