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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Holiday Spirit

The holidays are here! Around this time one year, I got a homemade Christmas card from one of my third graders. Clearly he wanted me to know that his holiday wishes were only given under threat of grounding.

To ms. Sharh, ms. Tasha and ms. Linzy
Merry
Cristmast

from,
Lewis



Blog Carnival

Hooray for the blog carnival! Pat at Successful Teaching has included me in the most recent blog carnival. Check out other education-related postings!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Loud Pills and Ad-Libbing

Please forgive still more posting about showcase, but really--it's pretty much all we've been doing. Sure, there's been a dash of addition, a pinch of writing, and a handful of geometric shapes, but mostly it's been rehearsal after rehearsal this week. The school performance last week was better than I had expected. I did not, in fact, have to toss a rubber chicken on stage and pretend the whole thing was supposed to be avant garde, as the random spouting of lines during rehearsals had caused me to fear.
  One thing I did not fear, but apparently should have, was that when one of the actors failed to cross to stage right at the correct time to deliver a line, Michael would loud-whisper, "Get your butt up here!" In front of an audience. We had a chat after that.
  This week, we had plenty of rehearsal time to polish the performance into a well-oiled machine sans "butt." We even delved into the finer points of acting technique. When Sabrina messed up the exact wording of her line but still kept the essence of the line in tact, I introduced her to the concept of ad-libbing. If you don't remember the line exactly, you can make up some stuff that's pretty close and fits with the plot. Sure enough, the next time through her scene, Sabrina showed off just how well she had taken that message of on-the-spot improvisation. In fact, her "ad-libbing" of the line was rather premeditated. She tried out several versions of the line in subsequent rehearsals, each slightly different than the last. "We sure need an airfoil!" "Yes--an airfoil is definitely what we need right now." "We certainly could use an airfoil." She even asked to add in a new line later in the play that she felt her character would say.
  Another development this week was the introduction of loud pills. After some barely audible lines, we had a sudden burst of projected voices. Wanting to continue this trend so the play could actually be heard and its corniness fully appreciated, I promptly prescribed and dispensed some loud pills. Despite their invisibility as I doled them out one by one to each actor, they very much worked. The play last night was the best it had ever been! The lines were remembered, they were delivered with feeling, the loud pills kicked in, and even the temperamental balloon jet prop worked without a hitch! And now...I definitely don't have to hear anything about an airfoil. An airfoil is certainly what I won't be hearing about. Better yet....it's winter break! Just in time for a supposedly major blizzard hitting DC the first day of vacation. Is it too much to ask for these multiple feet of snow to happen on a school day??

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Showcase

Well, tomorrow's the big day. The day to say your lines and say them with FEELING and preferably at the correct time. The day when the audience comes and thus there is NO playing around on pseudo stage. It's finally showcase!

Rehearsals today were a step up from yesterday when I was getting rather worried. Our runthroughs at some points throughout this week were less like a play and more like lines popping up randomly. One or possibly multiple students would hear an uncomfortably long pause in the dialogue, fear that it was his or her line, and just spout the next line he or she could remember. This did not so much lead to a smooth and coherent performance. We're closer to being ready, though, after today, so fingers crossed for a successful play tomorrow! I'm hoping for no freeze-and-walk-offstage situations and for that electricity that having a live audience brings to a performance.

Tomorrow the kids will also get to share their planes which they flew today in the final flight contest. After having to embrace the crappiness of the first draft of the flying machines, I was glad to see that, in fact, the second round of planes flew generally farther and stayed in the air longer. Move over Wright brothers!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Hello Winter

Second grade is going to be abuzz about THIS on Monday! Maybe this year we'll actually have a snow day or two! Last year was a dud for school cancellation, but it really doesn't take much to close school in Washington, DC.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Today's Lightsaber Update

As it turns out, what Jerome and I would talk about today was...still lightsabers. The latest development with Jerome's lightsaber is that is has now become visible. He got his hands on a long thin cylinder from the blue foam blocks and presented it to me outside this afternoon. Unfortunately, though, it was out of juice, so he was on his way to the lightsaber doctor. I'm guessing I will get a full report on how that went next week.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Lightsaber Bond

I am very much NOT a fan of Star Wars, but Jerome in the other second grade class and I have bonded on the playground over lightsabers. Jerome struck me as the kind of guy who might make a good friend for Sam in my class, so I staged a very manufactured coincidence one day to get them to hang out on the playground. After noticing that Sam was playing some sort of lightsaber....well, whatever it is one does with lightsabers, I sidled up to Jerome and asked if by some pure coincidence, he might possibly like Star Wars. Well, sure enough, he did, and my grand plan was well underway. Next step--"happen upon" Sam and his zzwooshing saber of light, introduce the boys to each other, and point out their shared love of lightsabers. As Sam stood there zzwooshing away, I offered Jerome the imaginary lightsaber that I keep in my back pocket at all times. He accepted and off they went.
  A few days later at recess, Jerome came up to me with a wide grin and displayed the loaned lightsaber that he still had with him. Today on the playground, he rushed over to tell me that he has now purchased his own lightsaber. I asked if he had gotten a good deal on it, and indeed he had. If the goal of my plan was to strike up a friendship, I think it has succeeded. I wonder what Jerome and I will talk about tomorrow!