Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

I will admit, I was a little nervous when I arrived at school for early morning duty and was greeted by a cafeteria full of kids double fisting pixie sticks down their throats. For the most part, however, it turned out to be a pretty mild day. This whole week, for that matter, has gone by without incident. Sort of.

I did have a strange interaction yesterday. A student came into my room and I noticed she had two giant opened bags of Cheetos and Takis. I told her to go put them in her locker, and after spending way too much time explaining why was her best and only option for her snacks, aside from storing them in my trash can, she finally complied. At this point another student, who had been standing next to my desk watching this interaction, piped up.

Student: “Miss Lewis, is she going to her locker?”

Me: “Yep. She’s going to put her snacks away.”

Student: “I have something in my locker. I have a lighter in my locker. Is that okay?”

Me: “No that is not okay. Go take your seat.”

Student: “Because I do. I do have a lighter in my locker. A big one too.”

Me: “Still not okay. Go take your seat.”

He took his seat, got out his notebook and started his warm up.

I quickly typed a “P—– jut told me he has a lighter in his locker. He’s in my classroom right now. I’ll let you investigate” email to my principal. She showed up a couple of minute later to gather the student. He did not return.

It turns out he did have a lighter. A giant propane gas grill lighter. Awesome.

Aside from that incident, this week has been fairly mild. The highlight of my week was today’s warm up. It had a Valentine’s Day theme.



Complete Miss Lewis’s Top 10 list of cheesy, PG rated, pick up lines by coming up                                                                                         with your own for numbers 3, 2, and 1.

10. Baby, if you were words on a page, you’d be what they call FINE PRINT!                                                                                                            

9. If you were a booger, I’d pick you first.  

8. I don’t have a library card, but do you mind if I check you out?  

7. If you were a burger at McDonald’s, you’d be McGorgeous.

6. I wanna live in your socks so I can be with you every step of the way.    

5. My love for you is like diarrhea, I just can’t hold it in.      

4. Hey… Didn’t I see your name in the dictionary under “Shazaam!”?


 Here are a few of the ones I collect from my students:

Your face, I like that.

Come live in my heart. I won’t even charge you rent.

The best smell in the world is your smell.

If you were a potato, you’d be a good potato.

I hear you’re good at Algebra. Can you replace my x without asking y?

I’ve got the beans, if you to the rice. Dinner with you would be nice.

Can I get your picture? I need to prove to all of my friends that angels do exist.

I need to ask Siri for directions because I just lost in your eyes.

Well, here I am. What are your other two wishes?

Now I know why the sky was so grey today… all the blue is in your eyes.

I’d kiss a frog for you. Even if there was no promise of Prince Charming popping out of it.

You just made me legally blind with your beauty.

Is your father a baker? Because you have nice buns.

Hey girl, feel my sweater. Know what it’s made of? Boyfriend material. (This was one of my favorites.)

On a scale of 1-10, you’re a 9 and I’m the 1 you need.

If a fat man puts you in a bag at night, don’t worry. I told Santa I wanted you for Christmas.

I want to be in your footsteps all the way up the flight of stairs.

Are you a tamale? Because you’re hot.

I’m not from around here. Can I have directions… to your heart?

Don’t walk into a building; The sprinklers will go off.

Baby, are you a broom, because you just swept me of my feet.

Do you believe in love at first sight, or do I need to walk by again.

Did you fart? Because you just blew me away.

I must be in heaven because you’re an angel.

Are you a parking ticket? Because you’ve got fine written all over you.

Somebody better call God cuz he’s missing an angel.

The following were ones that didn’t meet the “share your answers with the class” cut. 

You turn my software into hardware.

Your body is a wonderland and I want to be Alice.

Do you eat tacos? Well, my Taco Bell is open.

If you were homework, I’d do you on the table.


Big News & Big Boobs

Last Friday, I introduced my students to our new class novel:  GONE, by Michael Grant – or as I like to call it, Lord of the Flies on crack.  I told them a little bit about the author, showed them how to follow him on Twitter @theFayze and then read them the synopsis:

In the blink of an eye. covers

Everyone disappears.


Everyone except for the young. Teens. Middle schoolers. Toddlers. But not a single adult. No teachers, no cops, no doctors, no parents. Gone, too, are the phones, internet, and television. There is no way to get help.

Hunger threatens. Bullies rule. A sinister creature lurks. Animals are mutating. And the teens themselves are changing, developing new talents—unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers—that grow stronger by the day.

It’s a terrifying new world. Sides are being chosen and war is imminent.

And they were hooked.

I gave each of the kids 5 minutes to brainstorm three possible conflicts that might occur in the novel and explain which of those three conflicts would be the most dangerous. By the time they were done writing and sharing what they had written, they were more than ready to get started. When I told my 2nd Block we were going to stop reading after we had finished the first chapter, one student got rather vocal:

Student: “What? Miss Lewis, why would you do that to us? This book is actually good! I was paying attention and everything. We want to know what’s going to happen! That’s fraud.”

Flash Forward To Today

As the same student comes into the room I tell her:

Me: “Guess what? I have a pretty cool surprise for you guys today about our book.”

Student: “Really? What is it?”

After the class filed in I told them the big news:

Me: “To start off class today, we are going to read the next two chapters of our GONE book and things are going to get pretty intense. Also, I have some pretty cool news. You know how I told you that our author always responds when you ask him a question on Twitter? Well I tweeted him on Friday and told him how excited some of you were to start reading his book, and he agreed to Skype with our class.”

I explained how Skype worked and quite a few kids got pretty excited. One student even said, “that’s really cool that an author would want to talk to kids.”

After our discussion about our upcoming Skype, the excited student from Friday pipes up:

Student: “Wait, Miss Lewis, you told me when we came in, that you had a surprise for us.”

Me: 😦

A little bit later we all got a surprise- including me.

I pulled up the video clip, that was to guide our discussion on theme. The video was about a 9-year-old boy who broke down crying in the middle of his audition for Britain’s Got Talent, but he didn’t quit. He pulled himself together, made a second attempt and blew the judges out of the water.

The clip ended, and the room fell silent as the kids began to write, until… the following video popped up on the screen as an ad. I tried to cover up the projector, but…well… let’s just say the kids got an eyeful.

Susan Boyle, You Go Girl!

In class we’ve been studying theme. On Friday, we talked about how themes are not just an element of literature, but can be found everywhere. To hit the point home, I found a collection of short videos to show the kids and tasked them with identifying the themes within them.

20091118-tows-sparkles-290x218 The first clip we watched, was Cheering for Acceptance. It was a news story about the Bettendorf high school cheerleading squad, the Spartan Sparkles. After volunteering for the Special Olympics, the captain of the squad motivated her team to incorporate girls with special needs as a mentor program. The clip talked about leadership, friendship, and the importance of focusing on what people can do instead of what they can’t.

The second clip was watched was A Bullied Student Finds an Inspiring Hero. This 6a00d8341c730253ef017d3bf9b98d970c-800wiclip, which was taken from an episode of Ellen, talked about a college student who had his car vandalized with hateful words because he was gay. When a stranger, who owned a small auto repair shop heard about what had happened, he not only fixed the car for free, but stripped it down to the bare frame and rebuild it.

“That’s fraud!” one of my kids said, after hearing that the young man had to drive his car around town in his vandalized car for 5 months because his family couldn’t afford to fix it on their own. The kids had some pretty good discussions about some of the themes they found in this video.

Our third video, was the famous Susan Boyle audition for Britain’s Got Talent. For the most part, my kids reacted exactly how had expected them to. When Susan walked out on that stage and started talking to Simon Cowell, they started snickering and whispering comments to each other. And then, as they heard her sing the first line of “I Dreamed a Dream,” that switch flipped and, just like the rest of the world, they were in awe by what she could do. 934_sbstashing-susan-boyle-dreamed-dream-viral-wild-horses-727705107-1

In one class, before she started singing, one of my boys piped up:

Student 1: “You guys all laugh, but you don’t even know. You’re being dumb. You don’t know what she can do.”

And then, three notes into her song, he jumped out of his desk, threw his arms out and shouted:

Student 1: “What! What! See! I told you! I told you! She’s doing it! She’s doing it! You go girl!”

It was very endearing to see a 13-year-old boy, get so excited for Susan Boyle.

In another class, as I was picking up their assignments at the end of the lesson, one of my kids told me:

Student 2: “Miss Lewis, these were great. I mean, the first two videos you showed us were good and all, but that third one? I mean, Susan… Susan Boyle… She just… She just… (by now she’s got both of her hands balled into fist and is pumping them up and down while trying to find the right words)… That Susan Boyle… That video… I’m just ready to go for the rest of the day!”

A True OG or Just Plain Cray Cray?

I’m not going to lie. 8th graders are ridiculous. Which is what I love and hate about my job. Mostly, I love it.

2nd Period

Students are finishing up their papers and reading, while I’m walking around the room. I come to two girls sitting next to each other who are passing a spiral notebook back and forth between them. I grab it out of one of their hands.

Student 1: “No. No. We’ll put it away.”

I’m ignoring her while I write my own note in their spiral. Then, without saying a word, I put the notebook back on her desk and walk away.

The two girls quickly hunch over the notebook to see what I wrote. After a couple of minutes, I hear:

Student 2: “Seriously, Miss Lewis?”

This is what I wrote in their notebook: OMG! This class is totes cray cray. I can’t w8 for Thanksgiving. It will be amazeballs for reals yo.

3rd Period

A student asks me to read over her paper. While I’m reading it, I hear the following from across the room:

Student 1: “You got that right. I’m a true OG. A total gangster. I’m so gangster, you won’t even see me coming.”

I look up to see the student get up from his desk and gangsta-walk around the row until he’s standing behind one of his buddies.

Student 1: “That’s right. That’s right. I’ll cut you.”

Me: “Yep. You’re going to be looking real gangster in a minute when we call your Mommy and you can explain to her how were too gangster to get your paper done.”

Student 1: Jumping back into his desk “Nope. Nope. No need to do that. I’ll go from gangster to wankster because my mom will throw me in the jaaaaaaail, son.”

Me: “Hey, that could be the name of your book, ‘Gangster to Wankster’.”

4th Period

While helping a student reword the end of his paper I hear a student behind me:

Student 1: “Dude. Dude. Dude. Short Stuff.”

At this point I turn around.

Me: “Are you talking to me?”

Student 1: laughing at himself  “I said ‘Dude’ like four times, and when I said ‘Short Stuff’ you turned around. Because you’re short.”

Me: “How about you use my name next time you want my attention. Staple your papers and put them in the tray, you weirdo.”

Over the next couple of minutes, I continue to hear:

Student 1: hee, hee, hee… “She totally turned around when I called her Short Stuff. Miss Lewis, that’s your new name.”

Me: “Oh great. I love nicknames. Now I just need one for you. Let me see. I know. Turdball. How’s that grab ya?”

Student 1: “No. I’m not shaped like a ball.”

Me: “You’re absolutely right. Trudstick it is then.”

Student 1: “No. I don’t think so.”

Me: “What? What was that, Turdstick? I couldn’t hear you. Nicknames sure are fun, aren’t they, Turdstick.”

Happy Election Day

Today H.M.S. held a mock election. Students were eager to head to our computer lab to cast their vote via iPad. They were also pretty eager to talk about where they think tonight’s election is headed. Although we won’t know the results of our student body’s poll, I’m 98% sure of the outcome based on this short conversation today.

Me: “Did any of you get to vote last period in your Social Studies class? Did you enjoy casting your vote?”

Student 1: “Miss Lewis, have you voted yet? Who are you going to vote for?”

Me: “I’m heading to the polls as soon as I get out this joint.”

Student 1: “Who are you going to vote for?”

Me: “I’m not telling you who I voted for.”

(Simultaneous Shouting Ensues)

Student 1: “That means she’s voting for Romney!”

Student 2: “She probably wants Romney to be her boyfriend!”

Student 3: Leaning in from his seat in the front row, spits out- “REPUBLICAN!”

Me: “Now just simmer down. There’s no need to get nasty. Voting is done privately and I have the right to decide if I want to share that information with you or not. Don’t be mean about it.”

Student in the front row: Giggling to his neighbor- “heh, heh, heh… I just called her a Republican.”

Dirty Shirts and Dirty Words

I should be grading a stack of summaries right now, but due to the fact that they were making my brain bleed, I’ve decided to have my students proofread them one more time before I bust out my red pen. That means I have a few free minutes to bring you this lovely post.

Here are my two memorable moments from today:

#1.  District Profession Development Part 2 (If you missed the recap of the 1st session, you can read about it here.)

We started off the session analyzing the exigence, audience, purpose, ethos, pathos, and logos of song lyrics. Fair enough. We also learned how to write a “kick-ass topic sentence”. In our building we use the “T”SAT formula for our topic sentences: title in quotes, source underlined, author and topic. It’s essentially the exact same thing. As the presenter is explaining what makes up a “kick-ass topic sentences” I lean forward and ask my coworker:

Me: “So why does he use ‘kick-ass’? How does the name help kids write a correct sentence?”

Coworker: “It doesn’t. It just sounds ‘cool’.”

Me: “That’s what I thought.”

We analyzed the song he used with his students. Here was my topic sentence:

In the song “Only the Good Die Young” by Billy Joel, the speaker tries to coerce a young Catholic virgin to take part in a little sexy sex with him because it is the key to living a long life.

See! Kick-Ass!

If I were to use this song in class, which I would not, here are some assignments choices I might give my students:

A.) You are a father and your 14-year-old daughter wants to date the speaker in this song. Write 15 lines of dialog that might take place between the two of you. (Actually, I’d really want to read what they’d come up with.)

B.) Choose an adjective that describes the speaker of this song. Provide 5 specific examples from the lyrics that support the adjective you have chosen.

C.) In five minutes, list as many reasons as you can that explain why this song was probably not the best choice to analyze in our classroom. Be sure that all of your reasons are “kick-ass”!

We finished off the day’s session with a George Carlin video in which he takes a “comedic whack-o point of view” on the notion of saving the planet.

Presenter: “I like to use this video with my students and I don’t really have to edit it.”

Me: (Whispering to my coworker) “Do you think he really edits anything he uses?”

Coworker: Eye-roll with a head shake.

Me: “That’s what I thought.”

For the record, in the 8 minute clip, “Uncle George” only used asshole” once and “shit” four times. Not too bad if you also don’t count the four times he dropped the F-bomb.

*Random side note: The lady behind me popped her gum 13 times… then I stopped counting because I lost the will to care.

#2. This is the T-shirt one of my students wore today.

Strip Clubs, Meth Labs and a Trip to Alcatraz

I am currently scoring fall district writing assessments and I’ve reached the point where I’m fighting the urge to stab out my own eyeballs with my pen. Instead, I’ve decided to take a few moments to share some of what I’ve read so far.

The assignment was to write a formal letter to a 17-year-old cousin who is contemplating dropping out of high school in order to get a part-time job to pay for the car she wants to buy. In this letter, they are supposed to incorporate facts and details, from a random list they were given, to persuade Alex that dropping out is a bad idea.

 The following paper was written by one of my students who clearly thought this assignment was a waste of her time.  Here is her letter:

Hey, hey Alex… If you are 17, a letter isn’t going to be very realistic but I’m going to be as realistic as I can.

          So you have informed me about your ignorant approach to acquire a motorized vehicle…You’re stupid.  That is pretty much all I felt like telling you.

          If you want to buy a car so badly, why don’t you work nights at a strip club?  If you’re attractive, I’m going to assume you are because you’re so stupid, you could make $800 a night.

          What are you gonna do after you’re all old?  Sure, you’d have your car…No man wants to see a forty-year old woman strip for them…Now, pretend we’re in the future.  You have 7 kids and your baby daddy’s bailed and left you. You have zero help.  You just got fired for being unattractive.  None of your family feels the need to help you, fore you seemed to have it all figured out when you dropped out of high school.  All your friends refuse to even be seen with you.

          Now what? Ha! Are you and your seven kids going to live in that car?  Well, you could become a drug dealer. Yes. Let’s pretend you chose that lifestyle. Now it’s about six months later and all y’all are doing great. All the money you guys could ever need.

          Uh oh… the FEDS just busted the door down to your meth lab! now their piling your seven kids into an ambulance… oh gosh!  There seems to be a helicopter that appears to belong to a news crew! You’re now in a black car and being taken far away to Alcatraz where you will be brutally raped by your fellow female inmates…

          Or the other way around. A rival gang could break into your house, kill 6/7 of your kids and kidnap your oldest daughter and sell her to a creepy old man somewhere in Africa.

          Now you’re really living happily ever after!– Stupid…

Oh boy. There aren’t even categories on my grading rubric for this paper.

Update: Look what I found at Barnes & Noble! (They forgot the part about staying in school. Stupid!)

Shortly after I read her letter, I came across another paper that contained the lines, “Life’s not about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about dancing in the rain. And the only way that will happen is if you stay in school.” I think I’m going to have that printed on a T-shirt. I’ve found a new way to motivate students.  

“Do you want to dance in the rain? Do you? Get focused and finish your assignment!”

(Oh. I almost forgot the girl who told me she couldn’t write the letter because she “didn’t have a cousin named Alex.” I asked her, “Do you want an A on this assignment? Then you’re gonna have a cousin named Alex.”)

Only 43 papers to go.