For me, one who does not particularly care for the fantasy genre, this book needs a new word. It defies description. It was ahead of its time. It still is. I suppose most ELA teachers approach this novel from the standard viewpoint of teaching. The unit plans that exist center mostly on "...critical thinking skills...comprehension activities, [assessment of the plot, character development], themes, and vocabulary. Through this story filled with beauty, truth and love, students will develop a keener sense of what these abstract ideas look like in the world around them and grow in their appreciation for literature." (attribution: TeachersPayTeachers, The HOT Spot) This is where my creative brain kicks in. We covered all these topics earlier in the year. This book gives me the opportunity to show students how EVERYTHING they learn is connected. I know that many of my colleagues will think that sixth graders cannot possibly understand quantum mechanics. They would be wrong. Every year I teach this lesson, at least one (usually more) of my students leaps at the chance to explain the realities of time travel, not the Dr. Who version, but the REAL version, to his classmates.
I get the unique opportunity to astound my students with the amazingness that is science. Doing so assumes I know what I'm talking about. Yes, I do. I am also able to talk about it in a way that makes sense to them. I love when the expressions on their faces change from glazed eyes to "MINDBLOWN!" One student actually voiced this reaction, "Mrs. Stein made my head explode today!" What could possibly be better than that? I WANT exploding heads! Kids were begging for more information. I have provided it to them: More here. This is what school is all about. It is entirely possible that with this one lesson, I engaged a future physicist. In language arts class. I also taught these young people that they are as brilliant as they choose to be. For those students who were not ready developmentally to understand the abstraction that is The Theory of Everything, they still understand that, by golly, this whole wrinkle in time business isn't as far-fetched as they thought. When we read the next novel, When You Reach Me , students have a different understanding of the plot. Suddenly, it is plausible. Not possible, yet, but plausible. We also have fun playing the $10,000 Pyramid Game. Read the book to find out why.
Some would say this is a #tlap lesson. I'm not sure about that. I wanted to dress up in a spacesuit and cover my door in aluminum foil, but my week would not permit it. Maybe next year. The class began with the lights out as we listened (not watched) the Star Trek intro. I was so happy that some students knew what they were hearing! Yay! As the lesson progressed, I made connections for them that got their brains thinking, "What if?" That is the key. What if, rather than what is. I just love this lesson and am sad that it is behind me. The good news is that I don't have to wait an entire year to share more of my passion about knowledge and learning. I can do that every single day.