Grasp the Opportunity

Sometimes you just need to do it!  Sometimes you just need to stray from your plans and do what you feel is right in your gut!  That’s what happened to me yesterday after my students and I listened to Vivaldi’s Siciliano during our regular listening time at snack.

We started listening on Tuesday and their first impressions were varied.  I asked them to write them on the white board as they transitioned from snack to math:

Today we listened again and as an activity during our listening time, we brainstormed 10+ words or phrases that came to mind as they listened.  Their ideas and interpretations were not only varied and insightful, but were so well thought out.  They really were thinking about the music and what it meant to them.

So, after cleaning up from snack, I decided to fore go the writing lesson I had planned to help them better prepare for THE TEST, and go with what was real in that moment – the music!

The students drew their interpretations, shared them in groups, created main idea statements about them and wrote paragraphs based on their main ideas.  They were involved, interested, dare I say excited…ok, maybe not, but they were certainly invested in what they were doing because the experience was real to them.

I really believe that teachers need to do this when the time is right.  We need to Grasp the Opportunities when they arise.  This is what the learning process is all about.  If you are excited about doing something, do it.  If you are interested in digging deeper, grab a shovel!  Give yourself the permission to every so often Grasp the Opportunity!

What opportunities have you grasped in your teaching lately?

~EMP

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Article by Elizabeth Peterson

Elizabeth Peterson has devoted her life to education and to reaching out to other teachers who want to remain inspired. Mrs. Peterson teaches fourth grade in Amesbury, Massachusetts and is the host of www.theinspiredclassroom.com. She holds an M.Ed. in Education, “Arts and Learning” and a C.A.G.S. degree with a focus in “Arts Leadership and Learning.” Elizabeth is author of Inspired by Listening, a teacher resource book that includes a method of music integration she has developed and implemented into her own teaching. She teaches workshops and courses on the integration of the arts into the curriculum and organizes the annual summer Teacher Art Retreat. Mrs. Peterson believes there is a love of active, integrated learning in all children and from their enthusiasm, teachers can shape great opportunities to learn.
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6 Comments

  1. Jennifer Rice says:

    This made me think of this fabulous project I do with my fifth graders every year. Let me explain a little about the process. They create these full body tape sculptures by wrapping their own bodies, limb by limb, with box tape sticky side up first and then about 3 layers of sticky side down. Once a limb, torso, whatever is finished being wrapped, I cut it off of them like a cast, they tape it back together and it creates a 3 dimensional hollow shape. All these pieces are eventually all taped together creating a whole body. Groups work together and usually all students get at least one part of their body wrapped to be a part of a tape person. We only make about 6 full bodies per class. Anyway, aside from the process of creating, the group needs to think of what their person is going to be doing so they can wrap each other in the correct position. For example a group would choose to create a baseball player so they posed like one when being wrapped. Another group wanted to create a girl sitting at a computer so they had to make sure their bodies were bent like they were sitting down when they were being wrapped. The point of me telling you all this is that the students took this project to a whole new level last year. They create their body as usual, but then insisted in creating the props and bringing in costumes or creating costumes for their tape people to wear! They also told me in great detail how they wanted it displayed during the art show! I will have to try to attach pictures somehow to show you what I mean. They were brilliant and all their idea!!

  2. Jen – What a great project! We need to share those amazing pictures and this project in a post soon. Thanks for all your thoughtful comments.

  3. Tori says:

    Wow! What a neat project! What grade level did you do this with? I think coming from a business background (I was a restaurant manager for many years before I became a teacher), I thought I had “management” down to a science. Little did I know that classroom management was a whole new experience. This year I had a conversation with my principal and she said, “Don’t forget to forget about the clock sometimes.” That simple reminder is pounding in my head and although I have grasped those opportunities in the past I know that is an area that I have to be more in tune with. Letting go of the plan and the clock and going with the moment can be powerful, engaging and exciting moments. I know that your students will remember Mrs. Rice and that really cool project they did in school! It’s those type of moments that I remember from my own second grade experience! I would love to see those pictures! 🙂

  4. Jessica says:

    Jen- That sounds like a great project! I love that the students felt able to add on to the project in a way that expanded on the original idea. They must have been really invested in what they were doing. I also see this as a great project for emphasizing teamwork!

  5. Leslie says:

    Your “grasp the opportunity” describes the organic nature of classroom teaching. As discussed in earlier posts, there is freedom in structure. Using the standards as the road, I create the vehicle of travel. At the beginning of the year, I like to establish community and procedures in order that the class runs well with a schedule. I like to start with the expected before I interject the unexpected. Later in the fall, when something worthy and unexpected arises, I will take the moment and run with it. Sometimes, those moments morph into meaningful lessons. The other day, when talking about rocks and minerals, I found that the subject of iron came up. This led to a valuable discussion about “natural resources” and their importance to community. How natural resources can shape the economics, population and landscape of a community. All of these conversations are part of the big pictures of common core, and making the connection between a rock>iron> iron ore> rivers/bogs> gabbro> iron making>nail factory> Amesbury, showed why we study rocks and minerals. However, it is very important to “run with it” or “grasp the opportunity” to help make the connections to the big picture. Drawing things out, or leaving the quick writes on the board, allows time for child to look, revisit, reflect and perhaps gain knowledge.

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