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  • The nerve of that thing. That chicken walked right into the classroom, up to the front of the room, and all over that smartboard. His footprints were all over the place. In red. All I could think when I walked away to assess the damage was "Oh. My. Word. What a mess." Someone should kill that chicken, fry it up, and serve it with some mac n' cheese or something. It would be nice to never see that thing again.

    It was my bright idea to add in a quick lesson before first period began working on their handouts. I thought "Maybe this will help them for their quiz on Friday." We just finished reading aloud Chapter 3 of the young adult novel and I was pretty sure not many of them were paying attention. I jumped up and, rather than grabbing the handouts as planned, I reached for the red smart board marker.

    "Ok, y'all. Who is Danny?" I asked.

    The students began rattling off the characteristics they knew about Danny from their own reading. I drew a dash next to "Danny" and began writing everything I heard. The descriptions came in fast. Like real fast, much to my surprise…I guess they were paying attention.

    "Alright. So who are the Outlaws?" After, finishing the list of Danny's characteristics, I rushed into the next line of characters.

    Those characteristics came in even faster (I guess, to sixth graders, the villains of a novel are much more interesting than the boring good guy).

    After finishing that list I took a breath and asked the class why it was important to know the specifics of a character and how it helps us look at a story. I explained to them how using an outline to describe characters of a novel will help them many years to come, especially when they get to texts with a large number of characters. They nodded away, all of them staring at the board.

    I began walking around the room, passing the handout around the room. The bright orange double sided sheet of paper consisted of questions about the chapters they read. They would use in text citations and inferences made about the reading to answer these questions. I began to hope they would use the character list we had just developed on the Smartboard to aid them along the way.

    After making my rounds, handing out their end of class assignment, I turned to look at the board. I began to wonder who came in and messed with the board, suddenly realizing it was me. I could barely read what I had written. How in the world would I expect the students to read that mess?

    Chicken Scratch. Yeah, that's a better word for it.

    I don't have horrible handwriting. It's not beautiful, but it's no doctor's penmanship. The only deduction I made after assessing the mess the chicken made on the board, I realized that writing on a Smartboard doesn't come out the same way as writing on the white board or even on a sheet of paper. Well, at least, that's my excuse. As the students began working, quietly discussing amongst each other what they could draw front the text to answer the questions, I walked to the board to fix what I had done.

    Grabbing the marker, I began to rewrite the areas that looked the worse. Still not really liking the final product, I turned and sighed. This is what I get for throwing in a lesson I hadn't planned on. But at the same time, I still felt a proud of myself. As I began to do laps around the groups of desks, helping students with any questions they might have, I sighed with relief. I saw on their papers the descriptions of characters we had talked about. I had expected the students to have so many more questions and concerns about what the handout was asking them to do. But, they were quiet, penciling their own answers away. I saw on multiple papers charts of characters with descriptions listed underneath each character.

    Wait what? Had I actually taught them something? Maybe some of the best things are done spur of the moment…but next time, please, no farm animals.
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