The easy answer to the question is to cook it.
But I should probably back up a bit.
All of the elementary GT teachers in our district received a book before the holidays called, What Do You Do With an Idea? It’s a beautifully illustrated book that figuratively represents a boy’s idea as he conceives it, nearly abandons it, and then nurtures it until it “spreads its wings.”
For some reason, I thought this would be a good book to share with my 1st grade GT students. That was my brilliant idea – and I didn’t ponder it long enough to realize that it was a bad one.
“Have you ever had an idea that you wanted to share, but were afraid other people would make fun of you?” I asked as an introduction to the book.
“Yes!” a 1st grader emphatically confirmed.
“Oh, what was your idea?”
“I wanted to go to my friend’s house,” she said.
So that led to a discussion about what I meant by the word, “idea.”
We finally got to the book. And, as I started reading it I quickly became uncomfortably aware that I hadn’t looked at the story with 1st grader eyes the first few times I read it.
“Why do you think the illustrator used an egg as the boy’s idea?” I asked.
“I know! Because he was hungry.”
“It’s not really an egg. It’s a chicken. It has feet,” another student pointed out.
Things further deteriorated when I got to the part about the boy “feeding” his idea. I had apparently chosen the precise time of day to share this story when the distance between breakfast and lunch seemed far too wide to my “starving students.” Between food and the ambiguity of a walking egg, the conversation wandered quite far from what I had imagined when I put this book in my lesson plans 3 weeks ago.
At home that afternoon, I thought about what had happened to my idea – the great one that I had of sharing this book with my 1st graders, engaging them in a deep, philosophical discussion (as described here), and then asking them to generate a piece of artwork with their own ideas (like these awesome examples).
I forgot to boil my egg. That was the problem. I just plucked a raw egg out of the carton and spun it like a top on the table – and it went wildly out of control.
What do you do with an idea?
Boil it in water for 10 minutes.
If it cracks, then you’ll know that it certainly wouldn’t have survived the heat of a room full of 1st graders.