Well, I was back in Regan Aymett’s second grade class this morning for the Raise Your Hand Tennessee program, and it felt good.
When I first got there, Regan set me up with two boys and two girls and gave us some little Star Wars-themed phonics booklets — not for phonics, but for an activity on characters and their motivations. The two girls, working as a team, and the two boys, working as a team, were supposed to read one of the little booklets and a) identify a character, and b) answer the question “why?” in connection with the character — why the character acted in a certain way, or was in a certain situation, what have you.
The two girls went happily to work, but the boys were not working very well as a team, and kept arguing over who had the booklet. We finally got it all worked out.
Then, I kept the same four kids but started a new activity. They had to write (and illustrate) a very basic sentence, then add adjectives to it, then add a location element to it, then add a time element to it. Even with the example sheet that Ms. Aymett had left us, it took a bit of explaining that these were, basically, four different and increasingly-long versions of the same sentence. The kids kept wanting to write all-new sentences for each.
I tried to keep up with things the best I could; I’m not sure how much I accomplished, but Ms. Aymett seemed happy with the end result. She was documenting several things today on video with her smart phone — it appeared to be for some sort of official project, since she’d identify herself every time she started the camera. Teachers have to do a lot more documentation and paperwork today than they’ve ever had in the past, and I don’t envy them.