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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Don't Get Too Jealous

Yeah.  Whatever.  I'm not jealous.  Ours is just as good.

My husband, Nate, received this announcement today about a special guest coming to his campus tomorrow.  He promptly forwarded the email to me and I was promptly and extremely jealous. 

But it just so happened that WE had a special guest of our own in third grade today.  So.  There. 

 Take THAT, Georgetown.  We've got Mr. Nick.  HE used to teach the third graders in Kindergarten.  HE now lives in CaliFORnia and that is where Emily's COUSIN lives so it is AWESOME.  Mr. NICK hung out with us at LUNCH and was really impressed with how big everyone is now and even remembered Malik's DAD.  Mr. NICK apparently brought in CAKE for his own BIRTHDAY in Kindergarten, as I was informed by any of the students who could remember back that far.  HIS visit was ALSO scheduled last minute.  Also probably for security reasons. 

And lest you think this is the first big shot we've had visit our classroom, I'll have you know that we once had the DC INSPECTOR GENERAL come talk to us.  Woah.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Jokes

Recently I've been trying out some new stand-up material.  No, I'm not going on a comedy tour, but I have attempted a joke or two this past week at the Take a Break Chair.

Some situations that precipitate the Take a Break Chair have recommended courses of action following the chair sitting.  Taking a break because of a conflict with another student is often followed by a social conference with that student.  If your stop at the Chair was because of uncontrolled silliness, the recommended course of action post-chair is simply, "Now be less silly."

Sometimes, though, a student chooses to take a break due to Unfathomable Despair, which doesn't have the same kind of follow-up action step.  In third grade, Unfathomable Despair most often comes from Not Being First, Not Getting to Play the World's Most Amazing Game during Indoor Recess, Not Sitting in the Front, or Your Team Losing.  In cases of such deep sorrow, the best remedy is sometimes distraction.

When Jonathan was filled with the aforementioned Unfathomable Despair last week, I though of telling a joke to switch gears and bring us out of the world of sorrow and into the world of corniness.  However, I couldn't think of any!  I zipped over to my computer and opened up a file with a list of a few jokes for kids.  I picked out one that I thought would do the trick and went back over to Jonathan.

"So a nickel and a quarter are sitting at the top of a hill" I began.  "The nickel decides to roll down the hill and gets hurt pretty badly.  Why doesn't the quarter roll down the hill?"  

Dramatic pause for comedic effect and to allow the forgetting of Unfathomable Despair.

"Because he had more CENTS!  Ha!  Get it?  CENTS?  Because he's a quarter which has more cents than a nickel?  But it's like, 'He had more SENSE!'"

And wouldn't you know it--the joke worked.  I made a mental note to remember that one and use it again soon.

Later that week, a burbling, teary mess of game-related sorrow and sadness (otherwise known as Carlos) hurled himself into the Take a Break Chair.  I knew what I had to do.

"So there's this nickel and this quarter sitting on top of a hill" I started.

Carlos laughed so hard that snot came out of his nose.  And that was just after I had set up the joke's premise.

"I know--a nickel and a quarter.  Pretty funny, right?"

I continued on to tell the whole joke, this time embellishing with grass stains and bruises that the nickel sustained during his ill-advised roll.  After the punchline and some serious tissues, Carlos was as good as new.

Do YOU have any surefire jokes?  I'm going to need more than just my nickel/quarter one.  It IS pretty amazing, though.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A REALLY Bad Habit

Let's face it.  Adults are boring.

Well, I suppose it's not that we're categorically boring all of the time, but that we have an "efficiency" setting that allows us to complete tasks without throwing in a lot of unnecessary excitement.  Testing out a microphone?  What would you say?  The most direct option probably chosen by most adults is pretty straightforward.  "Testing one two."  Ho.  Hum.

Another kind of boring task for which I, at least, employ a kind of boring approach is reading off spelling words for kids' buddy tests.  Usually the kids test each other by reading off the other person's words within a sentence for context.  If I end up giving a student her buddy test, and the word is "aisle," I'm almost certainly going for a highly mundane airplane-related sentence.

Children, however, LIVE for unnecessary excitement.  Why waste any opportunity to get a little creative? 

Last week, Sebastian was calling out words for Maya from her word list.  I was across the room, testing another student with what were surely exceedingly utilitarian sentences, when I heard him loudly using her word in context. 

Maya's word was "habit."  Take a minute to think of a context you'd use when giving that word on a spelling test.  "Habit."  Did biting fingernails pop in your head?  The habit of saying, "like" ?

Typical adult lack of imagination.

Sebastian, however, not only employed a fair deal of unnecessary excitement in the creation of his sentence, but also in the delivery.  As I contemplated a sufficiently lackluster sentence for the student I was testing, I heard Sebastian say loudly and with much feeling,


"He had a habit of.....


...SHOOTing people RANdomly!"

Yikes!  That is one REALLY bad habit!  I made a quick stop by Sebastian's table to request that the remainder of the spelling test feature significantly less violence.  A bit more boring, please.  

A recent vocabulary test asked students to give an example of an ordeal, one of our words from the week.  Adult-ish ordeals might include that long line at the DMV, the hassle of getting a dishwasher repairman in, or filing particularly complicated taxes.  The kids, though, came up with some pretty excellent ordeals.

Tyler's example of an ordeal was, "Having a hole drilled through your gum."

Xavier's was, "Getting swallowed by a clothes-eating shark and coming out naked."

Because that's what you think of when you're eight.

www.toothpastefordinner.com Cartoon from:
www.toothpastefordinner.com

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Stuff that Sounds Like Other Stuff

Stuff that sounds like other stuff thwarts us daily in the third grade.  "Establishing" is not the same as "publishing."  "Contraction" and "fraction"--also deceptively similar.  And a "tampon" is not the larva form of a frog.  I promise. 

I blame the English language.  Really?  Affect / effect?  Who invented that?  Their / there / they're?  Not cool, English.  And don't get me started on apostrophes.  ir / or / ear / ur / er can all make the same exact sound and some of them can turn a verb into a noun some of the time?  Why CAN'T it be good / gooder / goodest?    

Our latest entry in the "Stuff that Sounds Like Other Stuff" category:  cursor

As I was going around checking kids' spelling cards last week, making sure they knew the meaning of each of their words, I had Jasmine read off her "ur" pattern words.  Scanning her list for any potential words she might not have known, I asked if she knew what a "cursor" was.  "Yeah" she replied.  "Like cursing.  Someone who does it."

Darn you stuff that sounds like other stuff!  You've foiled us again!

Monday, March 14, 2011

I Am Now a Sophomore

Ms. Garb,
  It's been a while since you were my fourth grade teacher, but I wanted to write to you and say that I owe all of my life successes directly to you.  My academics skyrocketed, I became a fantastic person, and I remember every single thing you taught me.
        Sincerely,
             Brooke

Ok, so it wasn't quite like that, but I did get a letter today from an old student I taught six years ago in Louisiana!  She now lives in Arkansas, and I'm in DC, but there it was.  I'm not sure what prompted her to think of writing to me, but it was really cool to hear from a student from so long ago.  After starting with, "I don't know if this is still you or not," Brooke filled me in on all the sophomore year news from cheerleading to her boyfriend, and also about living in Arkansas.  She asked how I was doing, said that she'd like to visit DC some day, and closed with, "Go Gators!"  My Louisiana class mascot definitely did rock.

I wrote back to her all about DC and dug up some old pictures from that school year to send her.  "Yes!" I wanted to write.  "Travel!  Visit Washington, DC!  See the world!  Study hard!  And don't spend all your time with that boyfriend!"  While I didn't actually say it all exactly like that, I think the points got across.

Hooray for random mail from former students!  Have you gotten any blast-from-the-past-I-owe-all-my-successes-to-you letters?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Get Alright Soon

rogallery.com Andy Warhol
What's the quickest way to get seven best friends?  Be out sick from school for a few days!

Today for morning work I asked the Turtles to make some cards for a classmate who's been out sick and who will be out for a few more days still.  The assortment of cards featured lots of "Get well soon," and "Hope you're feeling better" messages which I know will cheer Alexis up.

There were also multiple pronouncements of best friend-ship, from, "You're my best friend" to a list of "things I like about you" that included, "kind soul, best friend ever, generous."

Step 1: Get sick.  Step 2: Wait for your absence to make hearts grow fonder.  Step 3: Allow time for the teacher to turn the class into a Factory of Appreciation.  Step 4: Let the best friend designations roll in.

There were a few cards with messages other than the standard.  Kennedy's card declared, "Get well Alexis."  That's pretty much the extent of the text in a 'Get well soon' card, right?  You wish that the person gets well.  And soon.  And throw in a few hearts or stars.  But no--Kennedy continued on.  "I hope you enjoy the rest of my card."  Wait-there's more to it than that?  What is "the rest" of this card?  Hasn't the main action happened already?  Ah, yes.  There it is--text-speak and all.  "Get well!  We miss u! Get well!  We miss u!  Get well!"

Gavin's card upped the ante on the usual note.  "I hope you get well soon.  I mean now."  If she knows what's good for her, Alexis really needs to speed this thing up!

Dominic's message also bucked tradition by, well, lowering the ante.  "Hope you get alright."  Not that well, just alright.

Jade hoped that Alexis was feeling better "because you're a part of the team."

We bundled the cards up and sent them home to Alexis along with some homework (nothing says recuperation like multiplication practice!).  Hopefully she's back to 'alright' (or 'better' or even 'well') soon!