Today's post pokes a little humor at myself, and we all need a little humor, don't we?
I finally had a large chunk of time to do some professional reading last weekend and I finished Christopher Lehman and Kate Roberts Falling In Love with Close Reading: Lessons for Analyzing Texts and Life. I LOVED it! I especially loved the suggestion of beginning to teach close reading with lyrics from a popular song. I couldn't wait to try the lesson with my fourth graders. I asked my 18 year-old daughter for some suggestions. I didn't want anything that would even suggest something inappropriate for fourth graders. She said, "Katy Perry...you can't go wrong." She then told me to check out her song "Roar." Well, I knew the song and thought that it would be perfect. I found a video from YouTube and I carefully scanned the lyrics to ensure there were no curse words. Satisfied, I printed the lyrics and bookmarked the video. I then made copies of the lyrics for each of my students so that they could mark up the text and write about their thinking. I was looking forward to the lesson all day. I knew that my kids were going to love it.
Fast forward to this afternoon. I clicked on the link for the video and I got an error message. For some reason, the site was down. It was ok. I found another link to the audio version of the song. We were back in business. I gave the mini-lesson and played a small blurb from the song. Oh, my kids were happy. They were smiling and singing and bouncing along. We talked about what we thought the message to the song was:
- Stand up for yourself.
- Never give up.
- If you fall down, get back up.
- Keep going, no matter what.
They were on the right track! I was feeling really good about the lesson and I was looking forward to seeing how their thinking would deepen as they closely read the lyrics.
I handed out the song lyrics and gave the instructions. "Read the text carefully. Circle words or phrases that stand out to you. What do you think they mean? What new ideas can you come up with when you think about the message of the song?" The kids eagerly took their papers and got to work quickly. I walked around the room, conferring with students about what they were noticing. Everything was going really well!
Then one of my boys came up. "Um, Mrs. Johnson, there's a cuss word on here."
"What? No there isn't. I checked it." I said incredulously. I had gone over those lyrics with a fine tooth comb. I was sure nothing was inappropriate.
"Look," he said. He then pointed to the fine print at the bottom of the lyrics. And sure enough...
there it was...When I'm Rich, You'll Be My B****.
I freaked out just a little and told the kids to scribble it out. Of course, the room erupted into laughter and kids yelling out, "I need a Sharpie. You can still see it." Oh my...the lesson went downhill from there. I decided to put it away for the day and told the kids we'd go back to it tomorrow.
So, my great lesson kind of fizzled at the end (or maybe a better word is exploded). The irony was not lost on me though. Here I was, teaching a lesson on close reading, and I realized that it was me, who had not read closely enough. Lesson learned!
Have you ever had a lesson go terribly awry when you thought everything was going well? Please share you story in the comments.