Charles Frederick Kimball
Language Arts Lesson
Teacher Reflections by Rebecca Walsh
My experience teaching the lesson was positive. The lesson was clear and easy to follow. I found a video of the book, The Way to Start a Day, since my library did not have the book. The illustrations in the video are similar to the illustrations in the book. I also read Twilight Comes Twice by Ralph Fletcher, which uses beautifully descriptive language. The other change I made was in the product. Ultimately, the students wrote haiku poetry instead of a story. I don’t usually take much time for art in my classroom. This lesson forced me to, and I really saw how much the students learned from it. I think I will try to incorporate art into my lessons more often.
This lesson really delves into the “artful” side of writing. So often, we are mired in mechanics that writing becomes a chore. The kids were not used to playing with words, and sometimes it was a stretch for third graders, but I will definitely remember to not underestimate the students’ abilities. They CAN write descriptively! The progress I witnessed was in smiles of relief as my usually not-very-quick-to-write students were able to complete this assignment successfully, and felt proud of themselves. It was nice to have other students find success with writing; usually the same students are the best writers.
For formative assessments, I had to do a lot of observation and listening. This let me know that I needed to pull a small group of students to work together and go over the assignment again. I also used questioning when discussing color and mood. After reading the notes the students wrote about how a sunset makes them feel, I really felt that analyzing their feelings was beyond many of my students’ abilities or desires. Therefore, I decided to change the activity from writing a story to writing a haiku. I felt it was more manageable, but also a good lesson for students about expressing yourself clearly and using words effectively.
It would have been beneficial to do some pre-teaching where students draw a scene, then identify a mood, then write something suiting that mood. Turning the assignment inside out might help students understand more what mood means. Also, it would be good to show many different paintings and to discuss the mood of each.