That’s So NOT The Same Thing

Today in class my students were making dictionaries for their new academic vocabulary words for this term. I’m talking riveting stuff like textual evidence, theme, thesis statement and topic sentence

The students had to walk around the room, find various definitions posted on the wall, record them on their paper then head back to their desks. In their desks, they worked on using each word in a sentence and drawing a symbol to represent each word.

As I make my way around the room a student looks up to me and says:

Student: Miss Lewis, these words are much easier to use in sentences. I feel like I actually know some of these words.

Me: Well that’s good. You have a head start then.

Student: Yah, we did something like this in Mr. C’s class but I don’ think I used some of the words right.

Me: Oh really?

Student: I just couldn’t think of a good sentence for the word tranny.

Me: Well that’s probably because it was social studies class and your word was probably tyranny.

Student: Oh, that sounds right. Whatever. Same thing.

Me: Um… so not the same thing. Tyranny, tyranny… make sure you use the word tyranny.


We-we-we so Excited

After I finished reading the first chapter of The Outsiders to my 2nd Block, I let the kids work with partners to complete their activity packets.  I was instantly impressed by how on task my students were.   I approached a couple of boys who appeared to be having a very intense discussion.

Student 1:  “Well, I think she was making a good choice because she got fresh before she had her cereal.  If she didn’t have cereal, she would have been hungry later.  Sometimes I don’t eat breakfast and I always regret it.”

Student 2:  “Well, then she gets to bus stop and that car pulls up- I don’t really think those kids even want to give her a ride.”

Student 1:  “I know right.  There’s two sittin in the front seat and two sittin in the back seat, and she has to think about which seat she can take?  There’s only one available.  I suppose they could have scooted over so she wouldn’t have to sit in the middle, but it’s not like anyone is going to give up their front seat.” 

Student 2:  “I like how she pretends it’s a life and death choice.  There’s no debate here.  There’s only one seat open. There is no choice to make.”

Student 1:  “And some times she doesn’t even ride in the seat.  That’s not safe.  The right choice would have been to wear a seatbelt.  Instead she rode on the hump.”

Student:  “Yah. hee hee hee… Her friends made her ride bitch.”

Some Children Should be Seen, Not Heard

Today was the last day of Term 5.  That means only 6 more weeks of school.  This is the time of year when I notice how far a great number of my students have come in regards to maturity.

I see little things every day that make me proud of my students. 


We were playing a game today and the kids had to make their own teams. Two girls and a boy, who are pretty popular huddled together, when the boy looked across the room and say “that kid” (the one who constantly gets on his classmates nerves by making  comments that imply he is smarter than everyone else).  Without even asking the two girls, the boy invites “that kid” to join their team.  Even as the girls begin to protest, he ignores them and orders them to pull up another desk. 

I just smile to myself and think, “This is one kid I don’t have to worry about. When it comes down to it, he knows how to make good choices.

On the other hand, this is also the time of year when I have trouble controlling my rage due to the fact that some of my students have not grown at all.  In fact, I would find it safe to say some of them have actually digressed.  I continue to see and hear things that completely blow my mind.  These are the students I do worry about.

Example 1:

While reading part the The Hunger Games, the main character learns some very devastating news, and turns to “the bottle” as a result.  The next morning, as a result of hearing said news, and consuming said alcohol, she is a weeping mess.

Student: “So she’s like hungover?”

Me: “Yep.  She had a really rough night last night.”

Student:  “So girls get all emotional when they’re hungover?”

Girl Student:  “No!  I don’t.”

Me:  “Wow.  You didn’t even have to think about that one.  There was no hesitation at all.”

Realizing what she had just said, she stares at me for a minute.

Girl Student:  “Miss Lewis, are you mad at me?”

Me:  “No.  I’m just extremely disappointed.  It’s going to be really hard for me to look at you the same.  I just thought you were smarter than that, and I’m really disappointed about the decisions you’ve made.  Really disappointed.”

Girl Student:  “Well, don’t be mad at me.  You should be mad at my mom.”

This is the kind of thing that makes me worry about my students.

Example 2:

A student, whom I have not seen for over two weeks, shows up in my class today.  Aside from excessive talking, and being goofy, my boys this year are pretty good; this student- not so much.

He shows up in my class and manages to do fairly well for the first part of class- granted we were playing a game which kept everyone so busy, he had no one to entertain- but after we return from lunch?  Oh boy.  He’s in my room for less than two minutes when I hear him say…

Student:  “Are you kidding me?  You’ve never done that?  You’ve never eaten chocolate out of a girl’s butt crack?  Well, I guess I only tried it once, but I had to stop because she tried to shit on my face.”

Seriously?  What in the world am I supposed to do with this kid?  

The best part- the student could not figure out why he was being sent to the office…  😦

Substitute = Epic Fail

Quote of the Day:  While playing a game of Scattergories ( The topic: “type of fish,” the letter: “T.”)  I’m walking around the room when I over hear…

Student: “Oh, oh, twat!  Oh wait.  I was thinking things that smell like fish.”


So…yesterday  I took a sick day, a respite if you will. It was either that, or end up doing time for laying hands on children. As individuals, I love all my 8th graders this year. Working with them one-on-one they can be funny, have great stories, and are generally pleasant. As a group however?  Look out. One of my coworkers once said it best, “Anyone can be great to work with one-on-one. Even a serial killer.” 

After looking over the notes my substitute left, I drew up a nice long detention list on the board. I was more that content with the fact that several the kids on the list, decided to participate in the student organized “8th Grade Skip Today.”

 These are the notes my sub left for me:

Block 1:  Went well.  They all finished their work packets and should have had plenty of time to do the blog entry.

Block 2: They were very disrespectful and rude. Particularly O, M, and C.  I have never taught such mean, nasty girls.  They should be seriously reprimanded.  I ended up sending O and M to the office.  (Students told me O flipped out after she “saw my sub wipe a booger on my desk. Hmmm… still not sure how I would have handled that.) N and G were particularly off task. (After some interrogation, my students turned on one another and informed me that the subject of my sub’s sexuality was the topic of student discussion/disrespectful behavior. I was pissed.)

Block 3: This class was very well-behaved and worked well for the most part.  Everyone finished the worksheet and most did the blog as well.

Block 4:  Lots of angry girls in this class huh?  Many refused to read.  I kicked D out for saying “f–k you” three times, loudly.  (The sub had asked the student to read a paragraph out loud. He didn’t want to.) They all had plenty of time to work, so if they didn’t get done it is because they refused to work. K, T, and J were particularly unproductive and disrespectful.  Though I’m sure that is nothing new.  K and T both blatantly cheated after doing nothing the whole period.

>Yep… just like da Vinci

This week we have been talking about the many factors of an author’s background that can influence his or her writing. Yesterday I showed the kids the lyrics to the Beatles’ song, “Blackbird.” The students wrote about their first impressions of the song, then I shared a short article with them explaining how the Civil Rights Movement had inspired John Lennon to write the song. My students then went back to explain how knowing this information deepened their understanding of the song.

In order to help my kids out, I gave them a simple writing frame to follow. They were to copy the sentence starters and fill in the blanks with their own ideas:

After hearing the song “Blackbird” for the first time, I thought the song was about…
I can see now, that… was a major influence to the song.
Although the song first appeared to be about… , I now know that it means much more.
In reality, the song is about/represents…
This song is an example of how… can influence his writing because…

Most of my kids did a really good job. …I said most…

One student completely ignored the writing frame and started her paper with…

“I think it talking about when you where a bady and wow it your to fly away your mom and your dad.”… A rough start but it got much better after that.

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>Holy American Classic Novelist Batman!

>Today I introduced the vocabulary words for our next short story, taken from Mark Twain’s memoir, “Roughing It.” I explained how Mark Twain was a famous American author who wrote classic novels including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. I reminded students that Mark Twain lived before television and internet, and how in those days, people had to read the newspaper to learn about what was going on in the world.

We proceeded to use our vocabulary words to complete the following sentences about Mark Twain:

As a young man, Mark Twain held a wide array of jobs.

Twain claims to have taken news stories and made them more sensational.

Twain preferred to earn his livelihood as a writer that as a miner.

It was more tolerable to write about hay than to work in a coal mine.

…At this point a student raises his hand…

Student: “So did Mark Twain do all of this before he decided to be Batman?”

Me: “Like I said, Mark Twain was a writer. You’re thinking of Bruce Wayne.”

>A child only a mother could love

>Today we were having a nice discussion about The Monkey’s Paw and the magic of irony. We discussed how messing with fate was destined to end badly for anyone who dared to use the cursed monkey’s paw to make a wish.

In the story, the Old Man and Old Woman make their first wish for money to pay off their mortgage and keep their son out of debt. When the son dies in a tragic accident, the Old Man and Old Woman receive the money they had wished for, but as compensation for their son’s death. The second wish is made, and of course it is to bring their son back to life. During the night as their son makes his way back from the cemetery to their doorstep, the Old Man wizens up and makes the third and final wish for their son’s death.

Student: “That’s mean.”

Me: “If it makes you feel better, they didn’t wish to kill their son, they just wished that he didn’t have to come back all gross.”

Student: “So. It’s their son.”

Me: “You have to remember that he died by falling into machinery. Like you said before, he was all ground up like hamburger; the family couldn’t have an open casket. He has been buried for weeks, he had to climb out of his coffin and through six feet of dirt, and then he had to drag himself for miles back to his parents’ house. Now imagine that all of that had happened to you. Can you imagine what your body would feel like? Can you imagine what you would look like and smell like?

Student: “So. I don’t dress to impress.”

Me: “Well, I guess I can’t argue with that now can I?”