Historical Events, Wieners & Chuck Norris

I have made it through the first full week of 2012!  My kids were in pretty good spirits, including the four new students I acquired.  One of my newbies looks just like YouTube sensation Greyson Chance, so now I get the added bonus of having Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” stuck in my head every day by the end of 1st Block. This is not the first time I’ve had a celebrity look-a-like in my classroom. One year I had a student who looked, and acted, just like Peter Griffin from The Family Guy. A year later, I had a student who looked like the Abominable Snow Man from Rudolph. And now, in my 1st Block, I have a little Joey Tribbiani and Greyson Chance in the same class.


Aside from the new faces, everything else is pretty much the same. My little gems had their shining and not-so-shining moments this week.

This week we started our Holocaust unit. One student seemed really interested in the topic right from the start. Every time I paused to take a breath, he tried to interrupt to share a fact he knew that he swore was relevant. Finally, towards the end of the class, against my better judgement, I asked him about this interesting “fact”.

Student: “Chuck Norris was born March 5, 1945. WWII ended March 4, 1945. Coincidence? I think not.”

Towards the end of the week we started reading the play, The Diary of Anne Frank. To set up the play, I asked my students to write down everything they know about Anne Frank on one Post-it note, and any questions they had on a second Post-it. I collected them all and made a master list for each class. For the most part my kids knew very little about Anne. They assumed she had to do with the Holocaust, a few kids knew she hid during the war, and a few others knew she had written a book.

As always, I had a handful of kids in each class who wrote, “She was deaf and blind” on their Post-it, confusing her with Hellen Keller. One student wrote, “All I know is Anne Frank flew that plane and got lost in the Bermuda Triangle.”

*Note to self: Make sure 4th Block reads an article on Amelia Earhart to clear up misconceptions about her bio.

The other reading teacher did a similar activity with her students asking them to write down everything they know about the Holocaust. She received this Post-it from one of her students.

What do you know about the Holocaust?

Ummm…. that would be Hollister…

After we read a short bio on Anne, the students did a summarizing activity then wrote down three things they learned to add to our class chart. Most of the kids wanted to write more than three things because they had learned so much. Here are a few “facts” that did not make our class master list:

1. She cannot fly like me. (This student thought he was being funny, so I kept him during lunch. We used that time to review “facts” and I wouldn’t let him leave until he had written down 6 facts he had learned.)

2. Anne Frank liked to play Hide & Seek.

3. Anne Frank likes Jews because she is a Jew.

One Post-it contained the eloquent sentence: “She’s a Jew her last name is Frankfurt she was born in 1929 she old.” Hmmm…

In another class, I had the kids working in groups. They read an article and worked on summarizing. When their time was almost up, I made my away around to check their progress. I approached one student and asked:

Me: “Where is your index card with your summary? You had one a few minutes ago.”

Student: “I threw it away.”

Me: “Why would you throw it away? Your card was full. Why would you do all that work only to throw it away?”

Student: “I had to throw it away because somebody drew a picture on it.”

Me: (Making my way to the recycle bin to do a little dumpster diving) “Well, let’s see this picture.”

Student: “I ripped it up.”

Me: “That’s okay. I like puzzles.”

I pull the torn pieces of index cards from the bin and this is the first piece I see:

Yep. It’s a wiener.

Happy New Year!


Oops… My Bad

As you probably know by now, I LOVE the Hunger Games series. I read a little bit to my classes a couple of times a week, and we have almost made our way through the first book. My first period class, however, is alway complaining because they are so far behind my other classes. They like to ask questions when I read which often lead so some pretty interesting discussions. Other times, they ask questions that get us completely off task which cuts down on our reading time.

Yesterday, my first period begged to read from the book because we were so far behind. I agreed to read for the first fifteen but reminded them that they needed to be good listeners and stay focused so we could get through more pages.  They all nod in assent, and we begin.

Me: Where we left off, Katniss was nursing a very sick Peeta back to health in the cave. She has just stepped out to grab some air, when a gift from their sponsors falls from the sky.

(I reread the last couple of sentences to set up the scene.)

Me: Katniss opens the parachute to find what inside? Any guesses as to what her gift is? (The correct answer is a pot of broth.)

A student right up front quickly responds.

Me: (Closing the book and quickly switching to my teacher voice…) You see! This is exactly what I’m talking about. You guys complain about being so far behind, yet when I read the book, this is why happens. If you guys are not going to pay attention when I read, then we are not going to mess with this. You complain about being behind the other classes, yet I’ve read less than a paragraph and we’re already wasting time with this. Katniss is in a cave, Peeta is at death’s door, they literally fighting for their lives. This is a matter of life or death. Why on earth would Katniss need a bathing suit?

Same Student: I said a bowl of soup.

Second Student: Geez Miss Lewis. No wonder why we’re so far behind.

Third Student: No kidding. Here we are, trying to get on with the story and you’re the one who’s distracting us.

Fourth Student: If you would just read and not asks us your “thinking question things” all the time-

Me: All right, all right, simmer down you crazies. My bad. Let’s just read.

Student Five: Finally!

Yep… I suck!

Today I had a serious case of Open Mouth Insert Foot.

At this point in time I have one student on crutches, another student undergoing foot sugary, and just yesterday, one of our 6th graders was hit by a car. Our poor kids are falling a part. This is also the time of year when we “exchange” students. At the beginning of every term, we have several students who up and leave, and several students who show up at our door from who knows where. Sometimes we are notified when new students will be showing up to our classrooms, but more often than not, they just show up in our doorway. I have acquired of each this week.

This morning, about 5 minutes into block 1, my door starts to open, and I see a staff member who usually shows up if a student is going to be out for a long period of time and needs work, or if a student has suddenly had a change in circumstances and needs some sort of accommodation.  The door starts to open, I see the staff member and I see the bottom of a crutch and all I can think is, “Who’s hurt now?” As the door opens, I say, “Oh, honey, you are all broken.” This is my staple remark to students who have induced some sort of injury since I last saw them, and is then followed by their story of what happened.

Today, as I’m saying, “Oh, honey, you are all broken,” the student steps from behind the staff member and I suddenly realize, this is one of my students who has sustained an injury. This is a new student. A new student who happens to need two support crutches to walk.


At this point several things run through my mind: oh crap, my students don’t really seem to be reacting so I’m pretty sure they didn’t hear me, oh crap, new student is all smiles so there is a good chance she didn’t hear me, oh crap…

As I approach the new student to introduce myself, I overhear one of my students saying, “I can’t believe Miss Lewis said that. That was so mean.” I quickly shoot him daggers before he can quote me to the rest of the class who clearly have no idea what he’s talking about.

I make my very awkward introduction, while trying to read my new student and the woman who brought her in. Again, I over hear the same student make a comment about how awful what I said was, but at this point, for everyone’s sake, I’ve made the decision to assume she did not hear me.

Luckily, the students were taking a unit pretest today, so I had a minute to email the staff member. This was my message:

Serious faux pas today. Please tell me you did not hear the comment I made when you brought M——– in today.

 I just got a new student yesterday, who looks a lot like M———-, and that’s who I thought you were delivering this morning.  I also have two students on crutches, and when you opened the door, I saw the crutch and thought another student had been injured. I made the comment, “You are all broken” thinking she had broken her leg.  I am so embarrassed and I hope to God she did not hear me.  If you heard it, I’m guessing she did too. Good lord, I am a horrible person. 😦

Luckily, the two of them were talking to each other when they opened the door and didn’t hear a word I said. Sadly, I’m pretty sure the student who did hear me, thinks I am a horrible human being.

Choose Your Words Wisely

As an 8th grade reading teacher, I learned early on that you have to choose your words wisely. I read aloud to my students on a regular basis, and I have to stay on constant alert; editing phrases, or rewording things to prevent the snickers and giggles, or inappropriate discussions that could follow.  If the story says, “We had a dinner of franks and beans,” it instantly becomes, “We decided to cook out.”  “We sat down and enjoyed a slice of pizza with a nice tossed salad,” becomes, “We ordered pizza.”

Today, while Katniss and Peeta were being questioned about their relationship in The Hunger Games, Peeta asks, “Well now that you’ve got me, what are you going to do with me?” (The class is already giggling, so I think quickly, changing her response of, “I’ll put you somewhere you can’t get hurt,” to “I’ll keep you safe.”  

Although my word censorship might seem a little to excessive, when you are surrounded by a room full if immature dirty minds, it could end up in a total disaster. Today I overheard another teacher teaching lesson on synonyms.

I start to gather my things to move to a quiet place to work…

Teacher: “Today we are going to talk about synonyms; words that have similar meanings. Today’s words relate to wetness.”

…and I’m staying…

Teacher:  “If we look at these words: damp, wet, soggy, moist, drenched, soaked, dripping…”

The smirks have made their way across the room.

Teacher:  “These words all have to do with being wet, but can represent different degrees of wetness…”

As the teacher directs his attention to a student’s question, a boy yells out…

Student 1:  “I got Jessica wet… with my hose.”

Although the teacher did not hear his comment, the other students have heard quite clearly.

Jessica has a look of repulsion on her face, as the teacher directs his attention back to the class and joins in the conversation which he clearly does not understand.

Teacher: “Good.  Now how wet are we talking here?  Which word would you use?

Student 2: “Well, his hose isn’t very big so I’m guessing not very wet.”

Teacher:  “So would you say it was a little moist, or was it more like drenched or soaked.”

Another student, who always seems to be a few steps behind- do to his limited vocabulary, pipes up…

Student 3:  “Or soggy?  What does soggy mean?  Could it have been soggy?”

At this point I do stand up and give the kids my “teacher stare” and the discussion comes to a rather abrupt halt.

>Hey Sk8er Boi, cut your hair so you can hear

>I stepped out of the classroom to check on a couple of boys who were working on a special assignment across the hall. When I came back in, I noticed a girl sitting in the back of the room with both hands up her shirt. I instantly knew what had happened. She had been playing with her belly button ring, it had fallen out, and now she couldn’t get it back in.

I gave her my “what in the world are you doing” look, which she clearly didn’t like.

Student: “Can I help you with something?”

Me: “I was about to ask you the same thing. Are you alright?”

Student: “Yes. Are you alright?”

Another Student: “No. She’s half black.”

He clearly misunderstood the question.