Monday, March 26, 2012

First graders on trees

When I was in teacher training, an early concept we were introduced to was called anticipatory set. Maybe you know it; it's a hook of sorts to motivate students and get them focused on an activity or concept. I like to use props or physical activity to engage the senses, and today I tried a simple exercise using the imagination.

Before we opened our fiction book about trees, I asked a small group of first graders to close their eyes. "Imagine this," I whispered. "Imagine you have a really big tree in your yard. Can you see it? What would you like to do with this tree? Think about that for a moment."

Fairly benign instructions, right? Hear what they offered.

Dylan: "I don't know. I can't see it. I don't know."
Alyssandra: "Mine is evil. I would cut it down; CHOP!"
Sloane: "I would let mine grow and grow all the way up to God."
Ivan: "Mine is an apple tree. I would harvest the apples and eat some and make dessert and and take some seeds and plant more and the apples are red and I like red and, and, and, ..."
Jayden: "I would make a swing!"

There you have it! Trees, as seen through the closed eyes of a handful of first-graders, and a diverse forest at that!

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