This post originally appeared on the blog Being Teacher.
I’ve had two reoccurring dreams in my teaching career: one is a nightmare; the other, an inspiration. Last night I had the nightmare.
I’m in my classroom, unprepared for the lesson, when someone of importance comes to observe me. Chaos rules in this dream as students talk over me, throw things at each other, and create general havoc.
And of course nothing goes right in the lesson. Dry erase markers are dried up, the technology won’t work, and I can’t find my copies for the day. I’ve started to think of it as a classic teacher horror story, just in time for the Halloween season.
My inspiring dream, on the other hand, also centers around Halloween, but not in the classroom. I’m with my family and we’re trick-or-treating in a beautiful, glowing neighborhood. Each yard and house glows purple, orange, and white, from shimmering jack-o-lanterns and ghoulish decorations.
The dreams ends at home, with our dining table layered with a bounty of multi-colored sweets. For someone who gleefully loves everything about Halloween, this dream is incredible and inspiring.
But to be honest, I haven’t had it in a while.
The good dream still inspires me though, even with the more-frequent nightmare. Here’s why: I love Halloween in my classroom. Chaos doesn’t have to rule this childhood fantasy season of candy and costumes. Instead, I embrace Halloween lessons everywhere in my classroom, drawing on both myself and the intelligence and creativity of other teachers.
Halloween Reading. Beginning in October, I use multiple resources from Teachers Pay Teachers. My favorite is a great zombie close read — with real-life zombie insects and human viruses — in small group, with multiple readings of a single text over the week.
I provide differentiated reading materials featuring bats, zombies, pumpkins, and mummies for the rest of the month. After reading the text in small group, I use the same text during writing!
My kids are engaged and I get excited, too. Can you see their glowing faces now?
Halloween Writing. Writing to texts has become part of the day-to-day practice in my ELA block. As I teach writing, I use texts that focus on non-fiction articles about real life zombies, bats, and mummies.
I use the texts for comparing and contrasting to provide fundamental writing practice while keeping student interest high.
Halloween Math. I engage my students while building their capacity for solving challenging math tasks with some great Halloween math tasks on Teachers Pay Teachers. Teachers always create the best materials for each other.
Halloween Discussion. Our students are growing up in a world that exposes them to diversity at every turn. I engage students in rich and complex conversation about human zombies. What kid isn’t at least a little intrigued about a zombie apocalypse or real life zombies, especially at this time of year?
I’ll admit I am little biased toward Halloween, the holiday season that makes me smile almost as much as Christmas. My dream classroom at Halloween includes growing brains and glowing jack-o-lanterns. Yes, I may give my kids a little Halloween candy, but using Halloween resources for whole month? That’s my treat!
I hope you’ll feel inspired to adopt the spirit of Halloween and let the season bring a little sweet joy into your life!
Brooke Hamby began her professional career with a doctorate in anthropology, teaching and writing in pursuit of her first love: understanding the human experience. Soon after the birth of her son, Brooke’s human experience changed, as she sought a career where she could make a difference in the lives of children, “sacred beings” to her way of thinking. After getting her Master’s in education, Brooke turned her love of children into becoming a classroom teacher and instructional coach. Brooke teachers 5th grade ELA and devotes her spare time to helping other teachers find balance through strategies and time saving tools.