This weekend I had the incredible pleasure of talking with one of my former 5th grade students. She’s now in her mid-20’s, married, with a beautiful little 4-month-old daughter – who was sweet enough to let me hold her for a bit.
This particular student was part of a particular class that will always hold a special place in my heart. They were an exceptionally weird group – so funny and interesting and unique and creative. Many of them are still in touch, and I love getting to hear the latest about what they are up to now.
It’s interesting, too, to hear what they remember from my classroom all those years ago. They were a weird group of kids, and apparently they still think of me as their weird 5th grade teacher. Obviously, we were a good match.
With that class, we ended up doing a lot of creative drama kinds of assignments: readers’ theater, role-playing, skits, songs. These kinds of activities suited them well. And those kinds of assignments were so much more fun for me too.
At the time, I was in my second year of teaching – still figuring a lot of things out – and I remember being really surprised at how much I could tell about their understanding of a subject through these seemingly goofy, often chaotic projects they did. Two of the boys acted out an entire scene from a story, including details that I hadn’t even caught the first time I read it! I learned that I needed something like a rubric or checklist to keep track of what I needed them to show me, but that otherwise there were endless ways they could actually demonstrate what they’d learned. (I’ve mentioned before about the cake dioramas and the history report quilt. It’s amazing what kids can do when given the opportunity!)
So, in honor of those weird, wacky, wonderful fifth graders, here’s my favorite reminder of just some of the ways kids can show us what they’ve learned:
Happy creative lesson planning!