4th Period, 8th Grade Language Arts
Me: What is the MAIN IDEA of this essay (Charles Kuralt's Independence Hall)?
Class: Declaration of Independence!
Me: Okay, but what's the THESIS? What argument is the author trying to put forth?
Class: 1776! John Hancock!
Me: Um.... okay. Is the author saying that the Declaration was written by God himself, left on a rock for Thomas Jefferson to find, at which point the entire Continental Congress burst into song?
Mysterious Voices in beautiful 8 Part Harmony: Oh say does that Star Spangled Banner Still Wave....??
Class: OH MY GOD!!!
Me: Whoa! That's apropos.
Class: So... yes?
Class: You asked if God wrote the Declaration of Independence, and then angels started singing the Star Spangled Banner!
Me: I know, right? But seriously, the main idea of this essay is....
Dalia: The main idea is that it was HARD, that it was a struggle.
Me: YES! Very good.
Mysterious Voices: ...and the HOME of the BRAVE!!
Class: (spontaneously applauds)
So then I ran into the hallway, found the choir and their teacher, and said, "Hey, we just read an essay about the Declaration of Independence, can you come sing for us?" The choir teacher said, "Great!" and the 26 high schoolers filed into my room, some of them former students, and sang for my 8th graders. After which, of course, we applauded again. Then the choir teacher told my students some facts about music, and then I released my students early for lunch. Awesome.