Teachable Moments Mean Dropping Plans

This morning I decided to toss my plans for the day to the side and completely revamp our day.  Instead of spending the day working on persuasive entries in our writer’s notebooks and how to take notes from nonfiction, I printed out two news articles about the earthquake in Haiti, pulled up this slideshow from the NY Times on the smartBoard, and printed out the one-pager from the NY Times.

As a class, we located Haiti on Google maps, read the article together, and discussed what the students had been hearing/seeing on the news and in the papers.  The whole lesson was eye-opening for them, and they were stunned by the photos of the devastation.  They asked what we could do to help and are spending the weekend brainstorming ideas as part of their Article of the Week activities.  Next Friday we will come together again and settle on a way for our team and school to hopefully make a difference.

Were my lesson plans important?  Of course.  Was it more important to seize upon the devastation happening and Haiti and open my students’s eyes to the tragedy?  Absolutely,  As teachers, we need to be ready to change our plans at the lsat minute.  We need to grab teachable moments and broaden our students’s world views.  We need to teach them to be global citizens.

5 Responses

  1. I did exactly– and I mean EXACTLY– the same thing. Sad thing was, I suggested a similar “seize the moment” to the Sci teacher on my team, a wonderful woman and colleague– but she honestly felt so pressured in terms of her curriculum that she felt she could not do the same.

    Sometimes I wonder if ELA teachers have the last remaining vestiges of freedom in this way. I hit several literacy standards in my impromptu Haiti lesson, regardless of what got dropped. Not every subject has the same flexibility.

  2. I think it’s fantastic that you did that, Sarah. It’s so important for teachers to be able to make education relevant, and helping students (who can feel somewhat powerless–I know I did at that age) to take the initiative in figuring out how they can make a difference is SO valuable. And I think in a sense we all feel powerless in the face of what happened and is happening in Haiti.

    Anyway, great post, and I also enjoyed your mock Newberys–veeeery interesting! 🙂

  3. […] the Reading Zone, Sarah Mulhern offers some suggestions on how to use life’s events and classroom tools to […]

  4. I love that you did this, because the kids needed it more than they could have ever expressed.

  5. […] Posted on January 22, 2010 by thereadingzone As a follow-up to this post, my students met today to talk about their Article of the Week.  (Every Friday my students […]

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