I'm headed off to BWI airport at noon tomorrow. Three other middle grades teachers and I are flying off to Portland, ME to visit King Middle School. We'll be checking out the way the staff and students handle their bidness up there. Apparently they handle it quite well. I've not been to Maine since 1983. All I remember is taking the ferry to Halifax. And lots of plastic lobsters on the restaurant walls.
Last week we had a bunch of teachers visit our school. I was doing a bit of a mystery piece with John Brown. The kids didn't know who he was yet, and I was having them make inferences and predictions based on images. They looked at photos and editorial cartoons and then some oil paintings, and I had them record their thinking as they went along. They made me look like a genius in front of our guests! I showed them an image of Brown on the gallows and they were sure he was a criminal or a slave-owner, but then I showed paintings of him kissing black babies and they were puzzled and engaged and asking questions. The week before we'd done similar work with the painting The Tragic Prelude, and before I unveiled it and told them the guy we'd been looking at all day was the same man from the painting, a student in front of the class raised his hand and asked "is this the same dude from that painting we worked on last week?" All the visitors in my room scribbled furiously when that happened.
I finished by reading a bit of text about Brown and having the kids analyze his character based on what he said, did, thought, and felt. Some of them thought he was awesome, some of them thought he was crazy, some of them weren't sure. Just like most adult Americans!