Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Secondary Smorgasbord: Traditions

Holiday Traditions...And Yellow Snow

First of all, let me get this out of the way: Yes, I have eaten yellow snow. When I was four years old I was playing outside with my family’s black lab on a snowy winter day. My brother, who was six years older than me, got my attention and pointed at a yellow patch in the snow near the bushes. He exclaimed, “Elly look! Apple juice!” Since I LOVED apple juice I instantly began to shovel the contaminated snow into my mouth.  I was still enjoying the “apple juice” when Mom came outside and saw my brother chortling and me sitting in yellow snow.  You better believe he got in trouble and I got my mouth washed out.

Now, how is this story possibly related to a holiday tradition? Do I go around eating yellow snow every December? (The answer to that question is a firm “NO.”)

When I worked at Will Rogers College Junior High School, the teachers and students all over the school participated in a traditional winter door-decorating contest through their advisory classrooms.  In the past, the teachers had plenty of notice to develop creative decorating ideas with their students and collect supplies. The December of 2013 was different. We had little warning of when, or even if, the judges would be coming around to take a look at the doors. By the time we were notified of the date, my class of 7th graders only had one forty-five minute class period to generate ideas AND decorate the door. Our only supplies: white printer paper, markers, scissors, and tape. No glitter, no construction paper, no garlands, no wrapping paper…You get the idea. Talk about a creative challenge.

During that fateful advisory day, my students and I spent about ten minutes discussing ideas. We were getting nowhere and wasting valuable construction time. Then, suddenly, a student remembered a truth I told during a “2 Truths and a Lie” game at the beginning of the year. He promptly reminded the class of “Mrs. Thorsen’s yellow snow story.” Since the story took place in winter, the class immediately decided to bedeck our classroom door with a yellow snow theme. Lovely.

They had an idea and ran with it. Tasks were quickly delegated among the students. At table one, students cut out snowflakes.  At table two, students dried out my yellow markers transforming the white printer paper. Students at table three were working together to draw and color a dog posing in a certain three-legged standing position. Table four had students crinkling paper to give it texture and taping those pieces together to form a layer of snow. A few ladies at table five made a sign stating “When Mrs. Thorsen was a little girl her brother tricked her into eating a lot of yellow snow. Which is why we decided to decorate our door this way!” The remaining students were working hard putting it all together on the door. Here is the result.


Slightly inappropriate? Maybe. Beautiful? No, not really. But the students worked together and finished our classroom door in less than thirty-five minutes.  You should have seen my students; they were so proud. It was fun to watch them working together and enjoying each other’s company. Many advisory classes had no decorated door to present to the judges.  Unfortunately, we did not win the school wide competition, but most of seventh grade agreed: Room 320 had the best door of 2013.

Thanks go to ELA Buffet and Desktop Learning Adventures for setting up this Secondary Smorgasbord Traditions Linky and inviting me to participate.  Check out the other blogs listed below for more teaching holiday traditions.


16 comments:

  1. You didn't win?! You guys were robbed! Thanks for sharing such a fun story and "festive" holiday classroom decor.

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    1. Yea, another teacher found out early about the door contest and had something ready in advance. Oh well. :)

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  2. Hilarious! Love the teamwork going on for your festive door :)

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  3. What a great story. Thanks for sharing!

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  4. Talk about a teachable moment! What made this so great is that the students remembered your story and created a way to make it work for them.

    Happy Holidays to all,
    Connie

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    1. Yes, I was pretty proud of them that day. :)

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  5. Love this, Elly! I nominated your blog for a Liebster Award! To accept the award (and pay it forward) click on this link:

    http://literarysherri.blogspot.com/2014/12/thank-you-for-liebster-award.html

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  6. That's hilarious! I agree- you were robbed! Isn't it funny how they remember the unimportant-wish-they'd-forget-about-it things. Great story! Thanks for being brave and sharing this with the world. :)

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  7. Great story....Gotta love those older brothers!

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  8. Elly, this is hilarious! Obviously, growing up with a big brother like yours enabled you to become a great sport! And your door idea is so clever! Thanks for sharing it :)
    Darlene
    ELABuffet

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  9. Great Story, and your door is adorable! ; ) Thank you for sharing!
    Have a Wonderful Holiday,
    Judith

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