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September 27, 2010

Keeping secrets from my students and watching them squirm with anticipation could be my favorite pass time.  Something about their curiosity just brings me joy.  I used this to my advantage when introducing their Writer’s Notebooks.

After mulling over about a dozen different ideas from colleagues, I settled on using a “mystery box” to hide the notebooks in for a little while.  The idea really stemmed from the time machine Esmé Codell described in her book Educating Esmé.  While mine was certainly no giant refrigerator box of mysteries, it did serve the purpose.

I scrounged up a paper box from the teacher work “room”  (really, it’s a closet that we do all of our copying in).  I covered it with heavy duty aluminum foil and made some neon signs saying things like “HIGHLY RADIOACTIVE” and “TOUCH AT YOUR OWN RISK”.  Try as I might, couldn’t locate any CAUTION tape to wrap around it, as originally planned.  For a little added mystery, I shined a little lamp on the box, which apparently made the box hot.  Or so the kids believed.

They were hilarious, guessing it was everything from cookies to a puppy.  When the time finally came to open the box, I read Shel Silverstein’s “What’s in the Sack?” poem and busted it open.  Some of the kids expressed disappointment that it was “only them books” instead of the pet iguana for which they were hoping.  However, even those who found the whole gimmick “petty” are treating their notebooks like precious china.

One point for Ms. Croft.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Rachel permalink
    September 27, 2010 7:18 pm

    I LOVE this idea! I do this for literacy folders that my kids use to record what they do in reading centers. I kept saying things like, “you will be getting a surprise, it’ll help you with centers!” Now, first graders are much easier to please than middle schoolers but my kids LOVE their folders. I also use a trick at lunch to get them to eat veggies. I say, “I LOVE corn” (or whatever other veggie is on the menu), then we (the lunch ladies and I) build it up until all the kids want whatever veggie it is we are pushing.

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