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.


Dress for Success (Pt. 2)

Last week my students took their End-of -the-year-district-writing-assessment.

The prompt:  “Dress for Success” is a phrase all of us have heard before, but it means something different to each person.  Write an essay explaining what “dress for success” means to you.

When I first saw this prompt, I was worried because I was afraid my students would not understand the concept “dress for success.”  I found several articles on the topic for my kids to read, talk, and write about.  We also went over a few articles and examples as a class.  As a result, I was quite impressed with the essays my students produced.  For the most part, their papers had an introduction, middle, and conclusion, and they were able to clearly express their understanding of the topic.

There were a couple that gave me a good chuckle.  Here are a few highlights from some of my favorite essays:

~When I think of the phrase “Dress for Success!”  I think of a person getting ready or preparing for a big job interview.  Like when  person goes to a job interview wearing a muscle shirt and shorts for a job that requires you to cook food.  Or when a person wears super fancy clothes to an interview that requires you to clean bathrooms.  “Dressing for success” is like a guide telling you what you might need to wear to make a good impression.

~Dress for success means to dress for the occasion.  You want to dress for the occasion because you don’t want be out-of-order.  An example of this is going to church in pajamas.  That is an example of dressing out-of-order.

~Schools are even making their dress codes better.  They don’t want the kids to dress themselves in tank tops and super short shorts.  Some girls do that just to fit in.  Those girls are dumb.

~Dressing for success doesn’t only apply to job interviews, but for many other things.  If you’re running for long distances, you don’t want your everyday clothes to slow you down.  How coul you fix this simple problem?  You could get the appropriate clothes for running and it would help you by taking off unneeded weight and make you not get tired as quickly.

~When you are applying for a job interview, you should look nice.  If you want to get a job at a bank, you should wear nice pants and a nice shirt, or a dress. If  you are applying for a job at Hot Topic you could probably wear a T shirt from your favorite band and skinny jeans. Avoid too many body piercings though.

~When you go to a job interview or someones funeral you have to dress with respect.  And nice.  You don’t want your butt or boobs hanging out.  You want people to think your decent and well-behaved.

~Another example is when you wear a tank top and some booty shorts to school.  That’s not a good thing to wear.  You got to wear non-distracting clothes.

~When you come to school you don’t really have to dress for success but you don’t want to come looking a hot mess.  Come looking decent.

~I think dressing for success is important because people will make assumptions about you.  If you’re in Wal-Mart and you’re wearing old pajamas with holes in them in all the wrong places, people will think you’re weird.  If you’re at a school dance, casual, and you wear a wedding dress, people will think you’re lame and weird.  If you go to prom wearing a dressing robe, people will NOT dance with you.

~When I think of dress for success I think of… Say you wanna go to Adventure.  Your friends are dressed in booty shorts and tank tops but there are hundreds of people they’re looking at you, is that really how you wanna dress?  People don’t want to see girls in booty shorts walking around at the age of 11 or 12.

~I think people should dress a certain way.  One reason is if you own a fortune 500 company and you wear flip-flops and a tank top.  The workers won’t take you seriously.

>Farts Are Funny

>We have officially entered the final countdown to the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. To get the kids prepared to take the biggest test of the year, we have been administering practice test, after practice test, after practice test, after practice test. (Hence my lack of new posts- things have been pretty uneventful this past week.)

Although I haven’t witnessed a student’s head actually explode from all this testing, I did come pretty close.

My students were taking their 2nd test of the week, and I was sitting at my desk reading through their posts on our “All Things Awesome” classroom blog. A student, who had just finished his test, got up to bring me his testing materials. The room was totally silent and then it happened… The student had made it halfway across the room, when he sneezed so hard, he simultaneously let one rip. My head snapped up and my eyes locked with the girl sitting directly behind him. The horrified look on her face was priceless. I quickly scanned the room. Yep. They all heard it, and their minds were trying to piece together what had just happened.

Continue reading

>Thanks for being awesome… or not

On the back wall of my classroom, I have a “Wall of Awesome.” This is where I post work containing written responses to short answer test questions that reflect my expectations for my students. These responses A. actually answer the question being asked, B. are written in complete sentences, and C. make sense.
These are some of the responses that did not make the cut.

Q. What are two things that Charlie does after the operation that show he is a genius?

A. What are lood think that he show after the operation that show that he a genius he is think and showing his feelts.

A. He approves on his reading.

A. He win to the mouse, and starts to speel right.

A. He proves his writing.

A. He read a book in 4 days. It was a big fatty.

A. He remember and a think.

A. starting to use big words, and

Q. How does Charlie’s understanding of his past cause him to feel sad or ashamed? Use two details from the story to support your response.

A. He feel that he didn’t like he mad good choses because he not starmt it make him fell bad about himself.

A. He rliza how people mad fun off him.

A. He was made fun of hes made fun of when hes a genius.

These answers came from the first few tests I graded. After reading these, however, I had to set the rest aside and not look at any more for a couple of days –I didn’t think my brain could take it. Tonight I plowed through the remaining 70 tests and I am proud to say, that after that first batch, they showed great improvement.