“Did you have fun at soccer?” I asked Adi after her game Sunday afternoon.
A sly smile crept across her face as she replied, “A little bit.”
This has become Adi’s standard response for when she isn’t ready to admit she has enjoyed herself. She used to always just say, “no,” to which I’d always reply, “Not even a little bit?” A little bit is now all I need to hear to know she’s had fun.
This was the interaction I shared with a class of fifth graders today, as we launched their new writing unit. As I had unveiled the genre, informational writing, there were audible groans from the class. They had already made it clear that they weren’t big nonfiction fans. As I explained that this unit would be different than their past units, I could tell they weren’t sold.
We began by brainstorming ways they get information and informational texts they consume. They talked about articles and books, documentaries and interviews. When I threw podcasts on the list, there was a rumble of energy that spread across the room.
After brainstorming kinds of texts, we jumped into making lists of topics they already knew about. I was a bit apprehensive because I had seen the on-demand pieces the students had worked on earlier. It seemed the class had reverted to comfortable topics and structures. There were many how-to pieces about bathing dogs, playing football, and swimming. But the energy was building and suddenly new expert topics emerged. Historical events, editing videos, fantasy football, musical theater, and horses. Kids got ideas from one another, adding to their own lists.
After this work, the lesson was almost over. I gave the students a preview of the next days work: choosing a topic, considering an audience, and beginning to think about what kind of project would make sense for them. The buzz rose again as they chatted about all of the possibilities.
That’s when I told them about Adi and “a little bit.”
“Are you just a little bit excited for this unit now?” I asked.