Transference of Power

by mrsapia

Picture this. Students sitting anxiously on the carpet in the front of our classroom.

Lesson objectives are written on the board and students are ready for an adventure of learning. The objective of the lesson was finding the theme of a poem. Our curriculum binder called for posting twenty or so various themes that students will encounter in literacy. Suddenly, a funny thing happened. Since developing a PLN (personal learning network on twitter) I have shifted my pedagogy in many ways. I will delve deeper into that topic in another post. I will say, however, I’ve truly put my trust behind students having a voice and an opportunity to prove themselves.

I decided, instead of giving students too many options for themes, which they probably would have had a difficult time understanding, I transfered the power to them. I read aloud the poem and asked them to immediately “turn-and-talk” to their neighbors on the carpet to discuss the theme. The discussion that formed was one of empowerment and engagement. Students were discussing the theme, as they saw it in their mind, and used evidence from the poem to support their theme. Additionally, students were making well thought out inferences using the author’s words. This sent chills of excitement up my spine.

I began to think to myself, “Do we not provide students with an opportunity to think for themselves?” “Do we provide almost too much support that narrows their thinking?” While I will never argue with the idea of providing supports so  all students can be successful using a variety of strategies, sometimes you just have to leave it in their hands. The results will most likely astonish you.

After having this “A-HA moment,” students partnered up to read “Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes. Anyone familiar with this poem will understand the depth of it. The students quickly went to their book nooks to partner read, discuss the theme, and respond in their reader’s notebook. During that time, I took small groups of students who needed  additional support and we broke the poem down line by line to deepen understanding and ensure all had an opportunity for success.

I was overjoyed when we returned to the carpet at the end of the lesson for reflection. Students proved, that given the opportunity to think for themselves, they can and will deliver. The themes that were discussed were extremely well-thought out and concise. The looks of confidence and pride radiated off their faces, and they were overjoyed with their successes. My friends, it was a powerful learning lesson for all.