Behrman Charter School is approximately 83 years old. In New Orleans, we are one of the oldest still-in-use school buildings. All around the city, new, shiny school buildings are popping up, slick with modern, Eco-friendly designs. Yet, these new buildings lack the few characteristics that make Behrman special. We have a huge auditorium (not a "cafetorium," but an actual auditorium and a cafeteria) and a gym, albeit old and smelly, exclusively for our student-athletes. We find pride in making the most out of the classrooms with termite damage, windows that don't open, and leaky plumbing and air-conditioning systems. Behrman Charter's building has a deep, historic personality, and I've always been curious in its changes throughout the decades. So curious that I decided to use our school's exterior physical changes as inspiration for a model lesson for our school's first and second grade students.
We started with a banana. What?! Yes! "What color is this banana?" I asked the class. "Yellow!" they yelled! "Yellow, yes, but is it only yellow? What other colors do you see? Why is this banana a different color than that banana?"
After we established an understanding about changing bananas through strategic, student-centered questioning (What are some other things that change? How are you different today than you were yesterday? Last week? Last year? Gimme specifics!), we put their visual and communication skills to the test by selecting 10 student volunteers. I created 8 banana peel "stages" using crayons and construction paper (see below) ranging from dark green to black with brown spots. I also included a picture of a tree with green bananas with the number "1" and another picture with tiny black dots labeled "seeds" with the number "10".
I shuffled the papers and gave each student-volunteer a random banana peel stage. "Talk to each other. I want you to put yourself in the right place so the rest of the class can see the color change from '1' to '10.' You will need to use your eyes, your voices, your feet, and your knowledge about changing bananas! GO!"
After the students started moving, the class gave the 10 students their thumbs-up or thumbs-down if they thought they were correct or incorrect. Finally, the class found success! Round of applause!
But now the tricky part: "Class, now we are going to try something a little bit different, but you need to keep what you learned about changing bananas in your brains, because we are coming back to it at the very end! Do you understand?" "YES!" "Okay, cool, now take a look at this picture!"
BIG-UPS to Ms. Dorr and Ms. Laurent for allowing me to model this lesson for them and their fabulous students!