Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Magic Moments in the Classroom

After a slow start to this year, the last few weeks have been so much better. I like to call it classroom magic. (Magic because it just happens. I can't really plan it.)

Magic Moment #1:
Students read part of the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" and then searched for ten photos that showed people enjoying those rights or people denied those rights. (One student took it a bit further and showed people protesting for those rights.)
The next part of the assignment was to merge slides with a classmate. Together, they searched for a song that shared the theme of their photos and turned it into a musical slideshow.
To say that these were powerful would be an understatement. "The Sound of Silence" by Disturbed, "Imagine" by John Lennon, and Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror" and "We Are the World" were just some of the songs backing some pretty haunting images.
Magic. (It didn't hurt that the students were pretty proud of their work.)

Magic Moment #2:
My classes memorize "In Flanders Fields" by John McCrea for Veterans Day. We study the structure, rhythm, and rhyme of the poem, but mainly we study the significance of the poem for Veterans.  Tiny Town High has a close relationship with the military in our community and many military kids attend our school.
Anyway, the students have been practicing the poem daily. Today, I had my classes on the stage in my room for another activity. When they finished that assignment, I had them recite the poem in a darkened room with only the stage lights. There was a haunting quality to this every hour, but 7th hour gave me chills.
My small 7th hour class has nine boys and no girls. These young men gathered in a tight group and this is part of what they recited:
   "We are the dead, short days ago
          We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
             Loved and were loved, and now we lie
                In Flanders Fields.
     Take up our quarrel with the foe,
            To you from failing hands we throw
                 The torch, be yours to hold it high
                    If ye break faith with us who die
                       We shall not sleep though poppies grow
                           In Flanders Fields."

Those nine young men could have been the soldiers of the past and some will be the soldiers of the future. Those youthful faces made the poem so much more significant. I don't know about them, but I will never forget that moment.

I'd like to think that I control the magic in my classroom, but I don't. I think magic just happens, and these are the moments we teach for.

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