Thursday, December 23, 2010

They really do impress me every now and then.

**WARNING: in order to fully understand this entry, you should be familiar with the short story "There Will Come Soft Rains" by Ray Bradbury. I've linked to a pdf of the story below.**

Today's entry was brought to you buy: The Author Ray. Thanks, Ray Bradbury!

Welp, we finished reading "There Will Come Soft Rains" today in my 7th grade class. It really is a very tough piece for these girls to try to fully understand because their grasp of the figurative aspect of the English language is so underdeveloped. They were troopers and trudged through the tough vocabulary and astonishing imagery for which they had no/limited prior knowledge.

I read the story aloud to the class in an effort to help them comprehend through the tone of the story if nothing else. I did the typical teacher thing and stopped and did think-alouds at the appropriate places. I stopped at the line "One, two, three, four, five voices died" (it's on page 4, about a quarter of the way down the page on the pdf I linked above) and thought aloud, "Five voices died. We heard about 5 people or animals that lived in this house. I wonder if Bradbury counted out these 5 voices so his readers would infer something here."

My teacher friends and fellow literacy nerds will appreciate the light bulbs I saw going off around the room. I watched as one, two, then three faces went from puzzled to enlightened in the course of 5-7 seconds.

"Oooh! I get it!" one of lovelies exclaimed in a hushed and amazed tone.

"What? I don't get it? Tell me," her classmate said, still confused, from across the table.

And then, in one of the most goosebump-inducing moments I've had as a teacher, my darling student explained to her classmate what I hope was Ray Bradbury's intention when he wrote that line (Ray, if you're reading and my class and I have totally misinterpreted your work, please accept our apologies): "There were 4 humans and a dog living in that house, but when the bomb went off, the humans died, and then the dog died because the humans weren't around to keep feeding him. But the house kept 'living' because it hadn't been blown up. So then the house catches on fire, and it's trying to save itself, but it can't. So when the house 'died' it's like the humans finally died too."

I. could. have. cried. I was sooo proud that she was able to make that massive connection, and then to explain it to a classmate! I'm seriously choking up now as I relive the moment sitting at my computer in my office hours later.

For those readers who are not teachers or don't get what I'm talking about, forgive me for this geeked-out blog entry. I just thought I should share that sometimes learning actually does occur in my classroom, and this is one example.

Vicariously yours,

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