A New Coat of Paint

Every Saturday during the summer, you will find me perusing yard sales, hunting for treasures. Special finds from this past summer include, a wooden bowl, a decorative ceramic tea kettle and a mid-century lamp.  The rules of yard sale-ing are simple: arrive early, bring cash, and scan the entire sale before zooming in on specific items.  

I consistently fail the last rule when I catch sight of a decorative woodland animal. There it sits, perched on a folding table, surrounded by old garden tools and terra-cotta flowerpots. I take in the shape and structure of the four-legged creature and determine I simply must add it to the menagerie of yard sale animals I’ve collected over the years.  My justification for purchase goes something like this: There is nothing a little spray paint can’t do to repurpose, modernize, and reimagine this little guy.

Woodland creatures adorn my bookshelves, window ledges and side tables. Two of my favorite repurposed, modernized and reimagined yard sale purchases are the doe and fawn, who live on my front porch.  There they add a bit of whimsy and create an inviting aesthetic, welcoming guests throughout the summer.

Once fall arrives, I transition from bargain-hunter back into eighth grade English teacher, the curriculum planner: repurposing, modernizing and reimagining engaging, student-centered lessons. I find that lessons that worked well in the past, can feel stale, out-dated and fail to address current student needs.  While effective content lessons remain valid and valued, their composition, presentation, and materials may need a glossy new coat of paint.  

Repurposing, modernizing and reimagining lessons is a creative process I find challenging and fulfilling. I enjoy upgrading and enhancing my favorite content lessons–giving them a shiny new finish–layering in diverse mentor texts, digital mediums, interactive components, collaborative features, goal setting and reflection opportunities, one-point rubrics, and improved scaffolding.

When done well, reworked lessons, like refurbished woodland creatures, invite students into the curriculum, generate an aesthetic appeal, and create active learner engagement.

5 thoughts on “A New Coat of Paint

  1. I love the transition from yard sale treasures to polished, refurbished lessons. On this mornings walk, a fox followed us silently down the street for a block or more. My dogs never noticed him, but as I watched the sly fox over my shoulder I thought “Amy would revel in this moment!” You brilliantly bring nature and animals into your home, your life and your lessons. Thanks for this post…I am smiling from ear to ear!


  2. This slice speaks volumes about your vision for betterment in your teaching and personal life. Always an inspiration, you have an innate knack for breathing purpose into both the new and the old.


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