It's true. My students sometimes write garbage. Nondescript sentences that lack clarity, meaning, and tone. Most often it's because their writing is riddled with what we call at my school "Garbage Words." Stuff. Guy. Thing. Very. Gonna. Alot. Yes, alot. Student sentence: One thing about a guy is that he's gonna do alot of stuff. Sigh. Somedays, I seriously want to scream, but instead, I've decided to wear a garbage bag.
I've always loved adding some costuming to my teaching; I have bins and bins of costumes and have worn everything from a Roman gladiator's costume during our study of Julius Caesar, and an Angry Bird costume (we studied "angry verbs"), to a deer costume to emphasize that the plural of deer is, in fact, deer. My most vivid memory of my own eighth grade career was when my Social Studies teacher dressed in full Civil War costume and fired off a musket over the playground. It was 1984. When I read Dave Burgess's Teach Like a Pirate, I rediscovered the need and impact of costumes in the classroom. Dave, who appears at presentations dressed as a pirate, addresses the idea of using costuming and props to hook students and engage them in the lesson, and I agree with him wholeheartedly. There's something about stepping out of the expected role that elevates student interest.
So tomorrow I will wear a garbage bag with all of the Garbage Words glued on it. What am I hoping the impact will be? Maybe they'll remember that crazy teacher in eighth grade, and maybe, just maybe, they'll remember to avoid Garbage Words in their writing. Pictures coming soon.
Here's a picture...