When Our Role Models Let Us Down

This year my students have been doing a lot of summary writing of various news articles I give them to read. The articles are usually connected to the setting of a story we are reading, related to a topic they might be studying in another class, a current event from around the globe or an inspirational story of some kind.

This week, as a follow-up to one of the first articles we wrote about, I had to break some bad news to the kids. This is how my first period reacted.

Me: “Oh boy. I hate to start off class this way, but I have to tell you some pretty disappointing news.”

Student 1: Looking at the stack of our class novel, GONE, which finally arrived… now that we’re halfway through with it… “We don’t get to read our book anymore?”

Me: “No, that’s not it. That would be disappointing, and I’m glad that you like it so much that that’s the first thing that popped into your mind.”

Student 1: “Well, I was going to say…”

Me: “This piece of news I actually heard from Mrs. Meyer, who heard it from one of her and one of my students in the hallway. Do you remember Oscar Pistorius, a.k.a. Blade Runner? The Olympic athlete who was born without a fibula in both legs?”

Heads are nodding across the room. Image

Student 2: “Oh yah. I heard about this.”

Me: “Well right now, he’s sitting in a jail cell in South Africa waiting to go to trial to see if he can make bail. He’s accused of murdering his girlfriend.”

Class: “Whaaaaa???”

Student 2: “Yah. And on Valentine’s Day.”

Me: “The news just broke yesterday, and there are a couple of theories going around. Some say he’s had a long history of domestic violence and anger issues, others are saying that she snuck into his house to surprise him for Valentine’s Day and, thinking she was in intruder, shot her.” Image

Student 3: “Well, I’m not even a lawyer, but that last one sounds like crap.”

Me: “Well, either way. I’m going to let more news come in over the long weekend, and then I’ll find an article that we can read next week. That way we can all be informed and follow his story.”

Student 3: “Good grief. That makes me not like him anymore. He shot his girl friend? And on Valentine’s Day? I mean there’s like what, 365 days in a year? 364 of those are like, eh, just a typical day, but he had to do it on Valentine’s Day?

Me: “Like I said, information is still coming in, but keep your eyes and ears open over the weekend, because it will be in the news.”

Student 3: “Hey, Miss Lewis. How about, instead of writing a 10% summary, we can write him letters of disappointment. He can read ’em while he’s sitting in his jail cell. That will give him something to think about. Idiot!”

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.

images-17

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

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.

And I Thought I Was Bad at Math

Woo Hoo!!! School is back in session and it’s confession time!

At the beginning of a new school year, it’s always hard to judge how long activities are going to take and sometimes I’m left with that odd time at the end of the period where there’s not enough time to  start something new, and too much time to just sit and stare at each other. Today we had a few minutes at the end of the class so I grabbed the cup of popsicle sticks and gave it a good shake.

Me: “We have a few minutes left, and one thing you should know about me, is that I never let a moment of class time go to waste.” (Also, you should know that I’m a big fat liar.) “We have just enough time for a pop quiz!”

Students: (All stare at me with expressions that indicate several of them are probably peeing their pants that very moment. After all, how can you be quizzed when you haven’t actually learned anything yet?)

Me: “And the subject of our quiz will be ‘Random Facts About Miss Lewis’.  I will ask you a question about myself, and if I draw your popsicle stick, you must answer. If you get the answer wrong, you fail and we are all going to “boo” you until you cry.” (Okay- at this point I realize that they probably don’t know me that well and might actually cry so I quickly follow-up with…) “I’m just kidding. I’m not a bully. We are going to play a guessing game. I’ll ask you a question about me and you can volunteer to guess the answer.”

Students: (Smiles all around. They are on board with this game.)

Me: “We’ll start with an easy  question. I’m pretty sure I told you this yesterday, so we’ll see if anyone remembers.  How many years have I taught at Hoyt?”

Several hands shoot up, I call on a student, and she correctly responds with “This is your twelfth year at Hoyt.”

Me: “Very good. Let’s stick with number questions. How tall is Miss Lewis?”

This student answers very creatively. When I call on him, he gets out of his desk, walks across the room to compare our heights, and correctly guesses 5’2.

Me: “Alright, now we’re going to get tricky. You’re going to have to think about this question and possibly do some math. How old is Miss Lewis? (Several hands shoot up.) “Only, instead of telling me how old you think I am, I want you to tell me what year I was born.” (And hands go back down.) “Think about how old you think I am, subtract that number from this year, and let’s see what you come up with.”

A hand shoots up a little too quickly.

Student 1: “1812.”

Me: “What? 1812? Good Lord. Let’s narrow it down to the correct century.”

Students: (Blank stares all around.)

Me: “Let’s start with 19. I was born during the 1900’s”

Student 2: “1920.”

Me: “1920? What? Let’s see if we can get closer to the correct decade.”

Student 3: “1967. No, 1977.”

Me: “Winner, winner, chicken dinner! That’s correct. I was born in 1977.  1812?  Really guys? If I had been born in 1812, how old would I be now?”

Student 4: “Oh. If you were born in 1812 you’d be super old. You’d be like 125 years old.”

Haters & Other Things That Annoy Me

I’m not going to lie, this has been a rough week, mostly because I’ve been battling the mother of all sinus infections and have barely been able to complete a thought these past few days. As a result of not feeling well, I’ve had very little tolerance for the attitudes of my 8th graders. I’ve really had to practice self-control to keep myself from laying hands on children. Here’s a  taste of what has annoyed me this week:

Whatever

A student walks into my room before 1st Block even begins, and he’s got his earbuds in and his back pack on.

Me: “You need to take your ear buds out and go put your bag in your locker.

Student: Ignores me.

Me: “Take your ear buds out and put your bag in your locker.”

Student: Looks at me like I’m vapor.

Me: “I know you can hear me. Take your ear buds out, put your bag in your locker, and if you are tardy, you will owe me detention as well.”

Student: As he pushes past me, “Whatever.”

Me: “I like how you act like this is a brand new rule. You know better so don’t ‘whatever’ me.”

Student: “I just did.”

Mockingjay

Two pages into reading chapter 22 out loud, I stop, close the book and set it on the table.

Student 1: “Wait. Why did you stop reading?”

Me: “My voice hurts, and some of you are talking and I am not going to read over you.”

Student 1: “I was listening.”

Me: “So if I gave you a quick quiz right now, you’d do well on in?”

Student 1: Stares at me blankly.

Student 3: “I’d do well because I’ve already read the book so suck it!”

District Writing Assessment

For our spring writing assessment, students had to read three articles (3 really crappy articles, I might add) then make a claim about whether or not violence should be censored from TV and video games. They then had to cite all three sources somewhere in their paper as part of their claim or counter-claim. As the student start writing, one of my gems approaches my desk:

Student:  “I have a sort of unique opinion on this topic, and none of the sources really go along with it.”
Me: “Well, can you use the sources to support your counterclaim?”
Student: “That’s going to be a problems. The counterclaim, because I’m pretty sure that nobody in their right mind would disagree with me.”
Me: “Well, then, you need to be prepared to lose points because the purpose of the assignment is to use text evidence to prove to others why you are right.”
Student: Eye roll followed by sulking back to his desk.
 
In all fairness, he was leaps and bounds above the girl, who 7 minutes into our timed writing test blurts out, “What are we doing? Are we supposed to be writing something?”
 
 
Cain’s Arcade
 
 
In my classes we have been talking about the power of social media and what it’s capabilities are. I showed my 4th block the YouTube video, “Cain’s Arcade”. For the most part they really liked it, but of course there’s always a hater in every bunch:
 
Hater: “Did you see that kid’s teeth? How cheep. He made those games out of cardboard. He didn’t even have any friends. What a loser.”
 
Student 2: “Man, why do you always have to be a hater? You’re so negative about everything.”
 
Student 3: “No kidding. You’re pickin’ on a little kid. He’s like 9.”
 
Me: “It’s true. You are being pretty negative.”
 
Hater: “Whatever. You guys don’t even know anything.”
 
Student 2: “Say what you want. He may only be 9, but he still has more swag than you.”
 
Class:  “Ohhhh!!!! You got told!!!! Oooooo!!!”
 
Me: “You totally had that coming. You need to lay off drinking the Hatorade.”
 
Class: “Ohhh… that was a good one Miss Lewis.”
 
Me: “You like that? I stole it from TV. Feel free to use it.”
 
 
 
And for those of you who haven’t seen the video, Cain’s Arcade, here you go:
 

Technology, Overpopulation, and Kevin Bacon

It’s been an interesting week, and it’s only Tuesday.

In preparation for our District Writing Assessment next month, my students have been learning how to write argumentative essays. We are starting simple.

Step 1: We read an article.

Step 2: On a note card, the kids each list 3 facts, from the article, that support their claim on the issue.

Step 3: One the back of the note card, the kids each list 3 facts, from the article,  that would support an opposing view point on the issue.

Step 4: The kids write a paragraph.

Sentence 1: Their claim

Sentences 2-3: Two separate pieces of evidence, from the story, that support their viewpoint.

Sentence 4: A counter-claim. (A sentence that states an opposing viewpoint- I have to rephrase it because they forget what     “counterclaim” means)

Sentence 5: One piece of evidence, from the story, that supports their counter-claim.

Count them. Five sentences. Three of which they are copying from a notecard…which they copied from an article. Simple enough.

For the most part, they did a good job and I got a lot of paragraphs like this:  

Prompt: Argue whether or not you think the amount of technology kids consume is a problem or just a part of life.

Paragraph: I think the amount of technology kids consume is out of control. According to the article, average teens spend 16 hours a day using some sort of technology. Teens also spend 95 minutes texting. Some people might disagree and think technology is just a part of life. They say it does help you keep in touch with your family and friends.

Not too shabby.

And then there’s this one. Same prompt.

Technology Makes People Fat?

In my opinion people are making a big deal about kids using to much technology. First off it’s not true, scientist can F off. They make it so why can’t we use it. I we play sports and go to school that leaves three – five hours in a day for technology. Not eight. Let people be obeese if they want, the population is too high anyways.

We will be discussing this paper at his parent teacher conference next week.

On a lighter note, I actually laughed out loud when this happened at the beginning of 2nd Block today.

I see a kid shuffling down the hall towards my room as the bell rings. I wait, holding the door for him because I can tell he’s feeling bad about being late.

Student: “I know. I know. I’m late. I’m sorry. I had to go get my binder from the science room. I left it in there when I was sent home yesterday.”

Me: “You were sent home yesterday? What happened?”

Student: “I told the principal that she looked like Kevin Bacon so she suspended me for the rest of the day.”  

Me: Not even trying to stifle my laughter because, well, she does kind of look like Kevin Bacon. “You what? You said she looked like Kevin Bacon and she suspended you? What happened before that? Surely something else happened.”

Student: “No. Nothing happened. I just said to her, ‘Has anyone ever told you that you look like Kevin Bacon?’ and she sent me home.”

It turns out that things got pretty ugly in gym class yesterday with the sub. When the principal stepped in and told the boys they were going to lose their open gym time during lunch, the boys did not respond very well. Threats were made by students, as well as several smart remarks (If you want to call the Kevin Bacon comment a smart remark) which resulted in parents being called. In the end, several boys were sent home.

When this particular student’s mother showed up to get her son, all she had to say was, “Well, you do look like Kevin Bacon.”

Golden Nuggets

Here are  a few golden nuggets from random conversations that have occurred in my classroom recently.

Student: Miss Lewis, have you ever seen the movie Stepbrothers?

Me: Funny you should ask because I have never seen it.  I started to watch it on Saturday but never finished it. It was pretty stupid. It was funny, but I could actually feel myself getting dumber as I watched it.

Student: Really? You’re gonna play that card? You’re around us 8th graders all day. What could make you feel dumber than that?

—–

I over heard this little gem  while I was on the other side of the room entering my attendance.

Student: When I grow up, I’m going to be the sexiest man alive. You know it. The day I was born, was the day the world started breathing. I got it all. What don’t I have? I’m gonna be on stage rockin’ my guitar with leather chaps and my big ‘ol happy trail. I’m gonna wear that everywhere I go.

—–

This morning, I decided to play a little joke on my students.

Me: So class.  I was talking to Miss Smith next door and she told me that she was going to get some posters for her room. She also told me that some of you had the nerve to say, “Just as long as they’re not Justin Bieber posters like Miss Lewis has.” How dare you? That makes me think you don’t appreciate the things I do for you. I spend my own money to try to make this room look nice and student friendly and you criticize the way I do it?

Students: Look down at their desks tops not speaking.

Me: Setting a cardboard poster tube on the table. So this weekend, I went to every Walmart, every F.Y.E. and every Hot Topic and I bought every single Justin Bieber poster I could find. Look out kids because this room is about to get Bieberized. Starting with this gem… I stand back to unroll… the Official Hunger Games movie poster.  

One student mumbled under his breath, “Oh my God. I think half the class just had a nerdgasm.” Seriously? Where do these kids get this stuff?

—–

A couple of weeks ago, while playing a game of Scattergories, the letter was “P” and one of the items on the list was “personality traits.” We went around the room and teams shouted out their answers.

Student 1: Patient

Student 2: Persistent

Student 3: Polite

Student 4: Ours is double points. A people pleaser.

Me: That’s really good.  All of your answers are good.

Student 4: (muttering to his classmates) Yep, I please you for $3.99 an hour.

Me: Really?

Student 4: Ummm… ummm…

Me: $3.99 an hour? You’re cheap.

Student 4: (chuckling) Oh. I thought I was going to be in trouble.

Me: Well, it sounds like you’re already in enough trouble if you’re only charging $3.99 an hour.

Student 4: Miss Lewis…

Me: What? I’m just saying, your services must not be very good.

Happy Halloween

Another middle school Halloween has come and gone. Thank goodness.  

This year, a bunch of us staff dressed up to compete in a costume contest. One teacher wrote “book” on her face and went as Facebook. We had a couple of bottles of catsup, a bottle of mustard, a pirate, a pirate’s wench (although I doubt that’s what she called herself), a soft ball player, a jelly fish, a couple of witches, a couple of hippies… even Elvis and  Ozzy Osbourne were in the building today.

I dressed up as a nerd. I wore my “NERD” shirt, and all of my lanyards and buttons from Comic Con, as well as my giant Comic Con backpack bag you get at registration. (For the record, even the smallest 8th grader cannot fit inside a giant Comic Con backpack.) One student asked:

Student: Miss Lewis, where did you get all of that nerd stuff?

My proud response: …my closet…

Another student stopped me in the hallway and tried to give me some advice:

Student: Miss Lewis, you’re supposed to push your glasses up a lot and ask, ‘Um… um… does anyone want to trade me some Pokemon cards?’

As part of our Halloween festivities, we kicked off each class period telling our best jokes. I heard some pretty good ones, but we had to cut the jokes short in one class when a student told the following joke:

Student: Why can’t witches have babies.

Me: Nope. Nope. Not appropriate. This is what I meant earlier when I told you guys it only takes one inappropriate joke to ruin it for the whole class.

Student: But it’s not bad.

Me: I’m telling you it is. It’s not appropriate and our conversation is over.

In case you are wondering, the punchline to that joke is: Witches can’t have babies because their husbands have hallow-weenies. Childish I know, but I was not about to invite a bunch of jokes about hallow-weenies and crystal balls into my classroom. (For the record, the student heard the joke earlier in the day from the math teacher. Nice.)

My Halloween highlight of the day came from a mature civilized discussion that quickly took a turn toward the terrifying.

Male Student: Miss Lewis, how come teachers were allowed to dress up  today, but kids can’t?

Me: Well, think about it. I’m not saying this applies to all of you, but think about your classmates. Do you think most 8th graders have a good sense of judgement when it comes to what is and is not appropriate for school?

Male Student: Oh. Right. I see.

Me: So rather than have a line of students in the office, trying to call home for a change of clothes to cover up body parts, we decided to dress up and surprise you.

Female Student: I totally know what you mean Miss Lewis. There are some pretty bad costumes out there. I saw some pretty bad ones out there last night.

Me: I agree. It can be hard to find a good costume anymore.

Female Student: Especially of us girls. I mean there are some girl costumes out there that are so short, they don’t even cover your cookie.

Me: And we’re done.