Inspired by the past.

Ms. Kathy, I knew you were with me when I sang One Direction this morning.. when I left without coffee and didn’t cry about it (or, more accurately, fear for my life).. when I made it to work at 7a even though I slept in. I knew you were here, and I knew it was going to be a good day.

Today was one of those days where I finally felt like myself behind the reigns of my classroom. We threw out what didn’t work for us (figuratively and literally) and ran with new ideas presented in a new way. I did it my way, and the kids took what I had given them and ran with it.

After some house keeping with our binders and old material, I engaged the students by activating prior knowledge (what a teachery way to say “making you think about stuff you haven’t thought about in a while”) regarding the topic of witches. The students created descriptions of what a witch is to them, and we ooo’ed and ahhhh’ed at each other’s imagery filled depictions. Afterwards, we transitioned to a prezi about witches. I knew that almost half of my students had read this book; therefore, I knew I had to come up with a fun way to reel them in, as I always tell them. I created a presentation surrounding pop culture witches that we know and love: the Wicked Witch of the West, Ursula, Bellatrix Lestrange, Yzma, and many others. The students were glued to the board. It was so great to listen to them giggle at each video clip and reminisce about “that time I watched that movie!” when each picture  of each witch appeared. From Maleficient to Queen Narissa, I had them.

From the witches of today, we moved back to the 1600’s to talk about the witches of Salem. This is where my history connection (that good old interdisciplinary practice) comes in to play, and this is when you appear, Ms. Kathy. Before the students read a short article about the Salem witches, I went on a completely antic filled, overly emotional rampage about Arthur Miller and The Crucible, my all time favorite play. I love how it serves as an allegory for McCarthyism and the red scare; I love even more so that it shows us the importance of learning from history. Mid tangent, pages flying, eyes glued to the book cover; that’s when I knew. I knew you were there. Carrying that book made me feel like an eleventh grader again; skimming through it reminded me of the days spent in the second seat of the third row as Goody Nurse, with my few lines and over exaggerated antics. I felt like your student again, and when that realization came, I knew that today was going to be a good day no matter what happened. One of the many things I never had the opportunity to share with you is that The Crucible was the text that sold it for me, truly sold the idea of studying English in college. Your delivery of Giles Corey’s painful, hopeless cries of “more weight!” will forever be etched on my heart, along with your distinct narrow script and devotion to something from the past written about the past to teach the future to learn from its mistakes. This play was my ticket into a whole new world, and like Willy Wonka (since I’m on a Dahl kick this year), you gave a gift that gave more than you could ever imagine.

Who knows if you luck or my hope to make you proud led me to this awesome lesson, or being acknowledged by the vice principal for such at our grade level PLC and questioned as to if I would like to teach it to others. One thing I know is for certain – you were here, and I knew that because of that, today, my students were going to get a glimpse at the magic that you shared with me.

Thanks for that.
Ms. S.

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