Shoot The Hostage

When I was a teenager I loved the movie Speed.  I still do.  One of my favourite bits of dialogue happens between two buddy cops, Harry and Jack.  They’re on the job and chatting hypotheticals.  Harry asks “All right, pop quiz. Airport, gunman with one hostage. He’s using her for cover; he’s almost to a plane. You’re a hundred feet away… Jack?”  Jack’s response… “shoot the hostage.  Take her our of the equation.” 

Sometimes to truly problem solve, you have to step outside of the problem and deal with it first.  Sometimes you have to change the rules.

The classroom is a great place for this kind of thinking.

This week I asked my students to summarize a story that they had heard many times before.  I read them Little Red Riding hood and we ironed out some key points.  


At the end of the quick read-a-loud students shouted out key points, and I jotted them down.  I handed the papers out to volunteers and asked them to stand in sequence.  The rest of the class told them where the best place was for each paper holder to stand to ensure that they were in the right order.  

Once we had agreed on the sequencing of events, each student wrote down a better summary than the one that we made together.

When they had finished writing, I looked at the work that the students had submitted and each one was SO long.  Some were the same length as the story itself!  

“Shoot the hostage”

The next day in class I grouped them in fours and told them to bring their summaries from the previous day.  They each read what they had written to their groups; listeners had a chance to add to each summary.  Then I asked them to work together and write one more summary, tebest one possible… on a little piece of card stock.

“SIR!  We don’t have the space!” I smiled knowing that I had just taken a long winded version of the story “out of the equation.”

Anyone else have ideas on how to do this? How do you “shoot the hostage”?


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