Aspen school deconstruction inspires poetic musings |

Aspen school deconstruction inspires poetic musings

Katie Redding
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” When bulldozers start pulling apart the building outside a classroom window, what’s a teacher to do?

Instead of letting the recent Aspen Middle School deconstruction project distract their students, several teachers made a lesson out of it.

Ordinarily, sixth-grade teacher Mark Munger would have spent the first part of the year teaching his students to closely observe trees and plants. But this year, as he was planning that lesson, he looked out the window and saw the old middle school coming down. Realizing the project was going to be a huge distraction, he decided to go with the flow, he said.

So instead of watching trees, the students went outside to watch the deconstruction ” and then wrote poems about it, focusing on the concepts of image, point of view and revision.

Meanwhile, Aspen Elementary School writing specialist Dee Searing was having the same revelation.

She tracked down a book of poems about large construction equipment and read them to her second-, third- and fourth-grade students. Then she sent students outside to sketch, take notes and, ultimately, write about the project.

As she watched the project, she noticed that every brick was being saved. She asked the foreman why ” and he explained that the goal of the deconstruction project was to save as much material as possible for reuse.

Impressed by that responsibility, she also took the opportunity to teach her students about the recycling going on under their noses. Searing and Munger said they didn’t realize, at first, that they were teaching such similar lessons. But when they met on the landing above the project, with their respective classes, they decided to finish their projects with an “Author’s Chair.”

They’ll bring their fourth- and fifth-grade classes together in small groups, and have the students share their writing with each other. They hope to teach their students how to give each other constructive writing criticism, or what Munger calls “positive help.”

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