Fire drills are typically greeted with cheers and sighs of relief by most middle school students – time to head outside and time away from classwork.
I expected a similar response this morning when, like clockwork, a firetruck rolled up for our monthly fire drill. To my surprise, groans and grumbles made their way around the classroom. “Can we just stay in?” cried one student. “How dare they interrupt my poetry,” protested another student.
Confused (and giggling) I herded students out the door to our typical fire drill spot. Were these the same students who, a month earlier, begged to stay outside at the end of the fire drill?
Indeed they were. Students were in the process of creating Found Poems as a way to analyze the moral development of Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird. Rather than writing a typical essay-like response, students were going back over the text to gather quotes that illustrate Scout’s development in order to craft a poem. They were eager to write, eager do discuss, and not so eager to head outside for the fire drill.
It’s exciting when this happens. It’s exciting when you find something that gets them excited to read, reread, and write. It’s exciting when they choose writing over fire drills.