Thursday, July 28, 2016

Midnight Lesson Idea

Sleeping before school starts is the worst! However, it does lead to some midnight lesson ideas.

I recently got this book, The Black Book of Colors.

"Living with the use of one's eyes can make imagining blindness difficult, but this innovative title invites readers to imagine living without sight through remarkable illustrations done with raised lines and descriptions of colors based on imagery. Braille letters accompany the illustrations and a full Braille alphabet offers sighted readers help reading along with their fingers. This extraordinary title gives young readers the ability to experience the world in a new way."  (

About the same time my librarian texted me about introducing this amazing graphic novel, El Deafo

"Starting at a new school is scary, even more so with a giant hearing aid strapped to your chest! At her old school, everyone in Cece's class was deaf. Here she is different. She is sure the kids are staring at the Phonic Ear, the powerful aid that will help her hear her teacher. Too bad it also seems certain to repel potential friends.

Then Cece makes a startling discovery. With the Phonic Ear she can hear her teacher not just in the classroom, but anywhere her teacher is in school--in the the teacher's the bathroom! This is power. Maybe even superpower! Cece is on her way to becoming El Deafo, Listener for All. But the funny thing about being a superhero is that it's just another way of feeling different... and lonely. Can Cece channel her powers into finding the thing she wants most, a true friend? " (

And then my brain started going crazy!!

Icebreaker activity- Marshmallow Game:
1) Build a structure using marshmallows and toothpicks. Hide it somewhere where the students can't see. I use about 5 marshmallows and 4 toothpicks. You don't have to make it overly complex.

2) Break the students into teams. Each team needs to assign the following jobs (you can rename however you want):

Eyes- this will be the only person who can see the structure.

 Ears- this person will listen to the "eyes" and relay the information to the "mouth". 

Mouth- Listens to "ears" and shares information with the rest of the team. 
Hands- the rest of the team who listen to the mouth and build the structure. If your class is too small you can just assign eyes, ears, hands. 

* Deal breakers: I limit the time they have to assign each role. If they can't all agree their team is disqualified. Once you have decided you can't change jobs. Again, once you have a job you have to keep it or your job is disqualified.

3) How it works- (I will explain the role of each person and the game before we play.) 

I will take the "eyes" to see the sculpture. Only they can see it and they can go back as many times as they want to see it. They can NOT touch it or move it. They must then describe what they see to the "ears". Then the the "ears" describe what they heard to the "mouth." I stress the importance of whispering so other teams can't hear you. Think of this like a game of telephone. The "mouth" then tells the "hands" what he/she heard. The "mouth" can NOT touch the materials. The "hands" are the builders who must recreate the sculpture.

4) I walk around to monitor the teams and the first team to recreate the sculpture wins. 
*Deal breakers- if your team gets beyond a whisper you will be disqualified, using unkind words or being disrespectful will also get you out of the game. 

5) Come together to process the game. Discuss what worked, what didn't, what team building skills they had to use, what team skills they would improve if they did it again, and most importantly how they used their senses to accomplish the job.

*An alternative version of this can be found at:

Next, Share El Deafo with a book trailer. 

Trailer follow up discussion questions:
*What did they notice in the trailer?
*What are they wondering?
* What are the challenges the main character is facing?
* If you couldn't hear, what daily challenges would you face?

After that, read the Black Book Of Colors or show a book trailer.

Allow the students to feel the book. The braille illustrations are amazing!
*How would you describe the color "blue" to a student who couldn't see?
*How would you describe a black cat to someone who couldn't see?
* If you couldn't see, what daily challenges would you face?

Now, take it to the other end of the spectrum. What if everything you saw was too bright and everything you heard was too loud?

I would invite a parent of one of our special education students to talk here but you could also show this video about sensory processing disorder.
The 12-year-old animator/creator of this video now operates A Spanish version is also available. 

* What challenges did you notice about the person with sensory processing disorder?
*What do you wonder after learning about people that might have a sensory processing disorder?

Follow up:  Make a Venn Diagram of the two parts of the lesson.

Conclusion/Exit Ticket: Students could do their own Venn Diagram or use their favorite sense to tell you one thing they learned. 
For example, tell me one thing, draw about their take away, record a message to use their voice, etc.

Other resources: Check out the author discussing, El Defo. Discussion: if the students could talk to her, what is one question they would ask?

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