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In preparation the tables are moved to the side so students can sit on the
floor when they arrive. Posters of cave art are attached to the walls and
ceiling. With permission from the principal I put candles around the space I
will be sitting. The lights are turned off. Shades are pulled down. The
candle light is enough for students to come in and sit safely.
I meet the students outside the room with a flashlight and tell them that I
discovered a wonderful thing that I wanted to share with them, and I lead
them into the room and have them sit on the floor in front of me. I tell a
story about how I found these paintings on a cave exploration. Then I shine
the flashlight to one of the prints, and we "read" it. What are the clues
that tell us about the culture that made it? What is the story? Then one at a
time I spotlight another print, etc. etc.
While we are all in the mood I play story teller and tell them a creation
story (or other story) from another culture. I ask them to sit in a circle
and imagine a fire in the middle. I make the story very dramatic and ask for
a lot of visualization and participation. When it's all over we turn on the
lights and blow out the candles. I ask the students to use charcoal or chalk
to draw a part of the story "cave art style" on old slate shingles. (We live
in New England and there are plenty of slate roofed houses and old slate
floating around.) The drawings are easily erased for the next class, and the
slate is usable over and over again.
I let the kids know beforehand that there will be a special lesson next time,
and their behavior must be appropriate, or they won't be able to do it.
They've come to expect the unusual in my classes, so behavior is rarely a
problem at these times.
Brattleboro Area Middle School