So a few weeks ago, I had this idea. What if my 7th grade English students staged a flash mob poetry event at the food court of our local mall? I kind of fell in love with this idea, even though I had no idea how to plan such a thing. I was pretty sure the school and mall would never approve it anyway, so I figured, “Why not ask?”
So I asked.
And everybody said yes.
And my students fell in love with the idea, too, and said a huge YES! PLEEAAASE?! And so we figured out together how to pull it off.
We chose Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Bells” for both its music and because it has four stanzas — one for each of my four ELA classes to prepare. We assigned parts — some solo and some choral. We practiced in the classroom, in the cafeteria (until I thought the front office ladies were going to run screaming from the building with their hands over their ears) and in the parking lot one day when it was nice out. Yesterday, we staged a practice run-through in the cafeteria during lunch (to get used to getting funny looks). And today… was the real deal.
We had five undercover adults helping — two chaperones, two bell-ringers, and one posing as a mall official chucking a fit over the poetry…until she joins in and it turns out she’s part of the plot. And we had sixty kids, all set loose in the mall food court with half an hour to order pizza and burgers and eat lunch before the clock struck 11:45. At that time, they knew they needed to watch for a woman to pull something unusual from her knitting bag as she walked by Taco Bell…and that would start the whole thing rolling. Watch what happened!