Last week Friday I pulled out another one of those "last minute lesson plans." Literally, it was almost a "last second lesson plan." Turns out, contrary to what a true "professional educator" might expect, it was a timely and effective lesson! Or at least it would have been, if I'd been teaching the right grade level.
In math block I taught the kids a clever little "artist's trick" I learned from a kid named Warren Brown back when I was in fifth grade. Warren used to draw these elaborate monster faces which were perfectly symmetrical. One day he showed me a clever little "fold the paper in half" trick that allowed him to create the symmetrical images. He said he learned it from his dad, who was an artist. I resurrected the "draw scary monster faces" trick under the guise of teaching about lines of symmetry. My kids weren't all that keen on drawing scary monsters... because I have the lamest bunch of boring kids you could imagine... but they really got into it when we started using the method to draw geometric shapes and bottles. They loved drawing bottles, because you can draw an almost perfect soda bottle with very little practice. One of the Educational Assistants was sitting in and participating with us, and she enjoyed the activity as well.
This week we're doing our annual statewide assessment testing. Today the EA who learned the symmetry-drawing trick came into class and told me that the exact type of problem was on the assessment test that she was helping to administer. "I wouldn't have known how to do it myself if we hadn't done that lesson last week," she told me. "Unfortunately, none of the students in the group I was proctoring understood it, and I don't think any of them got the correct answer."
So there ya go: drawing scary monsters makes kids smarter.