Kids have the best ideas! by: Jennifer Mitchell
As a teacher I spend a lot of time planning, but at times lessons take unexpected turns along the way, and that is what keeps teaching from year to year fun and interesting. One of the books we read in third grade is Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner. We read it to look at character development. Most kids aren’t familiar with the book, and don’t realize at the end little Willy’s dog Searchlight will die as he crosses the finish line for the National Dogsled Race. It is always good that kids haven’t read it so they can’t spoil it for others. It however causes shock and confusion and sadness with the kids when the story is over. When I am reading it, even though I know what happens, it still gets me every time too.
One year I had a group of kids just not satisfied at all with the ending, so we as a class decided to create our own alternative ending. The kids were so invested in changing the story to make something that felt good to them. If I had planned to create an alternative ending I am sure kids would have done a nice job with it, but since they had suggested it it became an engaging and authentic experience for them. As a teacher sometimes the direction that kids want to go, instead of the “plan” for the week, can create experiences that you don’t forget as a teacher. If you listen, and are willing to be flexible and try something new, kids can come up with amazing ideas!