The Light Flickers Weakly

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What a provocative photo, no?  This past week has been a miracle of lesson planning in my seventh grade class. Miraculous only in that everything was planned so carefully. An interesting writing prompt accompanied by a photo every day bought some precious moments of silence while they all actually wrote in their notebooks.  And they shared.  Well, a couple of them did, each day.  We read some scary stories together and did their first One Pager about one of them.  Vocab lessons went just as planned, everything went just like the little notes I taped to my front cabinet so I didn’t forget what came next.  Well almost.  Until today when it all went down the drain.

Yesterday everyone finished their One Pager, or everyone who had any intention of doing one.  All week they’d been begging me to read La Llorona with them and then show them a video of it.  I agreed that we’d read it Thursday, except we ended up having to do it today because they took so long to finish their work yesterday.  Since I have three non-English speakers in the room for whom I prepare separate lessons each day, I decided today that I would perform (yes, perform) La Llorona bilingually so they could be part of the deal as well.  And I did.  Perform it, bilingually.  I love doing voices when I read, so I made the most of it with this story, especially at the end when the main character begins wailing for her children that she has just drowned.  Many of my students have grown up on this story.  It’s one of those legends that has as many versions as tellers, so any one you choose to tell is fine, as it’s not like there’s one definitive version that must really be told.

After I read/performed the story, they had questions to answer.  We did those together because I’m not leaving anything to chance with this group,  On Fridays I teach these students in two separate 37 minute periods. Today we finished the story during the first period, and then they left.  When they came back we were going to watch the video.  (Here comes the rub. And the slip in planning.) When they arrived for the next part of our class, another teacher arrived with them, wanting to use my microwave.  I felt a little self conscious about how loud and disorganized they are when they first come into class.  I finally got them seated and ready to go, and when he finally left, I told them to take a minute to finish the last three questions about the story.

During my prep period between their two classes, I had searched You Tube to find a good short little video of the story to show them and Hello! There isn’t one. (I had actually done this search the day before, but for some reason thought I’d suddenly find one today.  Not.) There are lots of terrible ones, but I couldn’t find anything like what I wanted.  I finally found an animated version in Spanish with subtitles (for my Hmong students), and I offered to show them that in its entirety on Monday (It’s over an hour long). “No, no, no!!” they clamored.  They had to see something today.  By this time the whole thing is almost down the drain.  I showed one of a haunted house in Disneyland that I knew they wouldn’t like, and they didn’t. Then I thought I’d show a piece of the animated one, but couldn’t get my iPad to project it.

I cringe when I think of this messy disorganized few moments.  One little misstep of planning and it all fell apart. And we will begin again on Monday.  When I will have another week all planned and ready and no, they will not be watching any video version of La Llorona after today. Thank goodness for the weekend!

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