Power Loss, Learning Gain

We lost power this morning at school. It was very weird but the eventual result was the whole school without power for nearly four hours. Our writing time today had been dedicated to finishing up the personal narratives my third graders have been working on for a while. Some are typing them up and others are illustrating what they already typed. We could have done that. Their laptops likely still had some power and, for unknown reasons, we did still have internet access. But I just didn’t have it in me.

Instead, I grabbed a couple of pieces of paper, folded them together to make a small book, and announced, “We’re going to write books about a blackout.” I said the books could be true stories or made up stories. They could write about today if they wanted. I modeled starting my story and answered a few questions.

Can we write a story without any pictures? Sure!

Can we write a graphica? Sure!

Can it be scary? Sure!

Off they went. For the next half hour my kiddos wrote and illustrated books about blackouts. I even found a Spooky Music for Kids playlist on my phone for as we worked. When we hit the end of our regular writing time, I asked them, “How many of you want more time? If you want more time, hold up five fingers, if you want just a little more time, hold up three fingers, if you’re ready to stop hold up one finger.” Five fingers went up all around the room. There were a handful of kids who were done, but most wanted more time. We took more time. Then we came to the carpet and read our stories to the class. Almost everyone wanted to read theirs aloud.

I have to admit, I do have a favorite. One student read their title and then said, “This is a lot of little stories. I’m only going to read one.” (Yesterday I book talked our scary books basket. I don’t usually book talk a whole basket, but I had gotten some new scary books and, being the week before Halloween, it felt like a good fit. Quite a few of those books were collections of short stories. Clearly this kid was paying attention.)

In case it’s hard to read, it says The Elevator Blackout: Stories of Elevator Blackouts and Others

Routine is important, for the kids and for me. But sometimes, switching things up pays off quite well.

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