>In search of the perfect word

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This week in class we are working on identifying and analyzing setting and mood. Today I showed the class several photographs and asked my students to write words or phrases that described the setting and mood of each picture.

First I showed them a picture of city in ruins, much like a scene from I Am Legend. Next, we looked at Norman Rockwell’s Thanksgiving painting. Then I showed them a photograph of hysterical Beatles fans, which took much cajoling (one of this week’s vocabulary words) for the class to be convinced that the girls wearing 60’s clothing were not lined up to see Justin Bieber.

Lastly, we looked at a picture of a spooky house and the following conversation took place:

Me: “Take a look at this picture. What words or phrases would you use to describe the mood or setting in this picture?”

Pencils instantly hit the paper, with the exception of one student who sat on the edge of her seat.

Student: “Agh. What’s that word? I can’t think of the word.”

Other students instantly jumped to her aid: “house, haunted, spooky, creepy, swamp, dangerous…” Clearly none of these words were the one she had in mind.

Student: “No. It’s like when you go camping… where you stay.”

Class: “A tent?”

Student: “No.”

Class: “A cabin?”

Student: “No.”

Me: “Does the word you are looking for have to do with actually going on a camping trip, like journey, adventure, vacation, destination… or does it have to do with the place where you would actually camp?

Student: “Yah. Like where you go camping.”

The entire class was now determined to help her out: “park, field, pasture, meadow, forest, the woods…”

Student: “Yes. That’s the word. Woods.”

Another student: “What? All that for the woods? Seriously?… You’re stupid.”

In her defense, this was the same student who forgot how to spell her own name last week.

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>What a stu

>I just took a few minutes to read over some of my earlier posts, and I’m afraid that some of you might be under the false impression that all of my 8th graders are a bunch of stus (that’s my top secret code for “stupid” –I hope the kids never crack it). It’s time for me to put your misconceptions to rest because this simply is not the case. The truth is, I have some really bright, talented kids, who constantly amaze me. They can be quite witty, make some really good connections between what we are learning and real life, and have, on occasion, had some pretty intellectual conversations about the books they are reading.

That being said…

Today I gave my kids a pretest on Setting, Mood, and Imagery. I passed the papers out, went over the directions, and tried to clarify any confusion. All seemed to be going well.

It was then, that I noticed a student sitting with her pencil poised over her paper, and a perplexed expression on her face. I watched her for a while. She finally looked up at me, then back at her paper, then back at me and said:

Student: “I think I just forgot how to spell my name.”

Me: “Oh honey. Well… just sound it out I guess, and maybe it will come back to you.”

I watched her for a minute as she sat and thought about it. She then looked back up at me and said:

Student: “Miss Lewis, don’t look at me like I’m stupid. I forgot how to spell my last name.”

Oh right, my bad.

What a stu!