For many years I worked as a Special Education classroom teacher.  I know from experience that most educators are counting down the days to their much deserved Christmas holiday break. Over the holidays teachers focus on their family, friends and much-needed repose, but the teacher part never fully turns off.  Even when on vacation they’re constantly scouting for ideas for future lesson plans.  Since I believe in making teachers’ lives easier, especially Special Education teachers that teach Emotionally Disturbed students like I did (never did like the E.D. label), I would like to share a few lesson plan ideas that perhaps you can use in your own classroom.  One of the literary techniques that I wanted to introduce to my middle school students was the use of tone and mood; however,  before I even got to the stage of introducing this concept within a literary context, I wanted to make it more fun and personable. Since I wanted my students to feel “connected” to their subject matter,  I decided to start teaching tone/mood through music and painting.  I incorporated into my lesson plan an Art Therapy technique that a wonderful college professor of mine utilized within her own work.  She used this technique as a means for teaching self-reflection.  Her students listened to two different types of music (soothing and energetic) and painted on paper the colors that they felt.  I thought this technique was brilliant because of the different learner modalities it utilized; auditory, visual, kinesthetic, emotional and metacognitive. For my own lesson plan I decided to use Beethoven’s 5th symphony and Brahm’s Symphony No. 3. The two pieces of music differ so much from each other that the students use contrasting paint colors to interpret what they hear.  After listening and painting, we then went on to have a discussion on how different kinds of music convey different tones and mood.  I have to say my kids loved this lesson.  The E.D. population is very challenging to teach and many of them are adverse to reading and writing.  This lesson provided a wonderful opportunity for everyone to learn in a fun and interactive way.  This lesson was also a great way to segue into teaching mood/tone within literature.  Once they grasped the concept of tone/mood through music and painting I introduced Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Raven”.  The writer’s dark and melancholy poem was a hit with my middle school age boys and I’m fairly certain that they got the concept of tone and mood because for the rest of the year all I heard was “Nevermore”, “Nevermore.”

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