As I’ve mentioned, I am piloting a digital portfolio system this year with my sixth graders, and I am trying to establish some reflective practice as they are writing throughout the year. Setting goals for writing class is one of those early activities, so they were working last week in Google Docs and then in Google Slides to establish three goals for themselves as writers this year.
I did model my own, but as I look over all of the goals that were submitted, I notice that too few were very specific enough, and I suspect we will be revisiting the goals, revising a bit to get more specific. (Now I know why we have SMART goals as teachers, with the emphasis on “measurable” in the mix).
Still, I was pleased by much of what my students wrote about wanting to accomplish this school year. There are budding poets, and story writers, and there are even those who know they need to be more attentive to spelling and grammar. A few chose expository writing and research writing as areas that will be on their radar screen. More than handful referenced technology and media as elements of writing in their goals.
I guess I fulfilled my duty yesterday in my role as arbitrator of fine literature as I pulled out some classic Calvin and Hobbes comic strips to use as texts for lessons around writing and formatting dialogue (this is always an issue with my sixth graders.)
I did a little informal polling, too. I asked, how many have heard or read Calvin and Hobbes? I teach four classes, of about 80 sixth graders, and only seven students TOTAL raised their hands in response. The rest had never seen nor heard of Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes.
What a travesty!
And one that I quickly remedied, as first I gave an overview of the classic comic strip and then introduced all of the main characters to them, and then each student received a page with three Calvin and Hobbes comic strips, and began the task of rewriting the dialogue as a short vignette, using proper formatting.
The best part of the lesson?
The giggles and the sharing of the comics with neighbors (every student got three different comics on their page) and those who asked, Where can I get a collection of these comics to read for myself? (I have some, of course, but my sons would get angry at me for taking them into school. Our Calvin and Hobbes books are read all the time in my house.) Maybe a new generation of Calvin and Hobbes fans is being born right now after a little taste of goodness and mischief and imagination.
Mr. Watterson, you’re very welcome.
Which reminds me: I have yet to watch the documentary — Dear Mr. Watterson — on Bill Watterson and Calvin and Hobbes, and I know it is on Netflix. I might need to do a little viewing this weekend.