Maybe it wasn't as bad as I thought. A few days ago I blogged about a Sentence Smack Down lesson that I attempted in a third grade classroom. It didn't go so well. I finally got a chance to meet with the kids today. Between President's Day and ice storms, I haven't been able to follow up with the kids or the teacher. Very frustrating. My goal when I met with the kids was to get their impressions of the lesson, find out what they learned, and also model for the teacher that it isn't a waste of time to collect this kind of data while teaching. In a way, our debriefing was a formative assessment that my co-teacher and I could use to continue to plan our next instructional steps. I gathered the kids to the carpet and asked them what they thought of the lesson. When I asked what they learned about subjects and verbs, some that could tell that a subject was the who or what and the verb told what they did. Some students loved the music and others didn't. I took a few notes and we moved on to a quick lesson about breaking down mentor sentences into 2-word sentences.
I had mentor sentences from several books written on sentence strips. I held the sentence up and read it. The kids identified the who or what. I cut that part off the strip, handed it to a student and they taped it on the left side of a 2-column chart. The kids identified the verb. I cut it off the sentence, handed it to a student, and they taped it on the right side of the chart. This process was repeated with several sentences. After the chart was completed, I asked the kids to look at the chart and tell what they noticed. If a word was in the wrong column, it was corrected at this time. Then we talked about why an author might use a two-word sentence. I read a page from Satchel Paige: Don't Look Back. When I asked the kids why David Adler chose to use the short sentences, the kids said things like, "He wants to get our attention." Bingo. That's what I wanted to hear. I told them that this is why we are learning about sentences. The way we choose to put our words on the paper helps our readers understand our stories. Normally, I wouldn't try to jam so much into a lesson, but I felt like I needed to connect the dots for the teacher as much as the kids. My planning time with this teacher has been basically nonexistent for the last two weeks and the snow days and assemblies keep interrupting the flow of instruction. Next, the teacher plans on reading Satchel Paige aloud so the kids can really enjoy it. After that, we want to use the Elmo or enlarge the text to show the kids how David Adler used his 2-word sentences. Thanks to Mary Helen's suggestion, I want to ask the teacher if she would be interested in putting her Elmo low to the floor in the gathering area. I'm not sure how the teacher will respond, but I am convinced it would be powerful. Geez, another snow day today. I just got my call.