Every morning, my English classes are expected to write for about 10 minutes on a bumper sticker quote I put up on the board. The first class, they just get the quote; I want them to approach it fresh and as they would on their own. They find critical thinking questions and prompts from me on the board when they arrive for subsequent classes. My hope is that these will nudge them to think deeper or more carefully or from a different angle; my goal is for them to practice critical thinking skills, then to transfer that thinking into their writing.
For the most part, these exercises seem to go over okay. The kids grumble about having to do them – especially the first-thing-in-the-morning kids – but with the exception of a couple of recalcitrant kids (who don’t write on principle, anyway), I get pretty decent engagement.
I had to kinda drag Hatcher through these last year; not exactly kicking and screaming, but for a while there, I was working harder than he was. This kid is SO smart and SO insightful, but he would give me bullshit responses to the prompts, and it made me CRAZY. I pushed him and cajoled him and harassed him all year, and he only once in a while let slip how brilliant he really is.
He ended up leaving the school this term (I’m not sure why, and it saddens my heart; I miss him every day). This morning, I got this message on my facebook page:
Dear Mrs. Chili,
After the second day of [standardized testing], I can honestly say that I would have had an incredibly hard time on the writing sections without the daily quote writing from your class.
I live for these notes.