Former Students, New Students, & A Couple of Ducks Just Passing Through

On Monday, I arrived back from spring break to find an email in my inbox from a student I had last year. I do keep in touch with a handful of former students via Twitter, or when they pop in for a random flyby, but letters and emails are very rare. The email read:

Hey Ms. Lewis,

          A______ just gave me your email this morning, she’s slow. So how have you been? Do you like your students this year? I mean they can’t be as great as we were, we did set the bar pretty hight.  I’ve missed you so much. My new English teacher is like 60 and talks in a monotone. She never smiles or jokes around, the complete opposite of you.  I guess I need to accept that not all teachers are as great as you are. We’ve been learning about Shakespeare and we are currently reading Romeo & Juliet. I honestly don’t understand it. I like the modern version that we read with you last year; it was funny and made sense.

* A couple of years ago my students really wanted to read Romeo & Juliet but it’s part of the 9th grade curriculum so I couldn’t teach it. They didn’t care and were very persistent and who am I to deny a bunch of 8th graders exposure to such a great work. So due to the fact that I love to write and never really sleep, I stayed up one night and wrote a 36 page modernized version of the play. Not gonna lie, it was pretty amazing. We’ve read it every spring since then. And I don’t feel bad about it.

A______ , some friends, and I are going to watch The Hunger Games tonight. I’m excited but kind of worried that the movie will be too different from the book. Hopefully it won’t be, but I don’t understand how they could make it PG-13 and can keep all the violence that was in the book. A______ said that you were really excited for it to come out so that you could watch it. I’m sure that you were probably one of the first people in line to see it when they first showed it yesterday.

Well, I hope that you had a good spring break and enjoyed the movie.

G___________ 🙂

I know that teachers are not supposed to have favorite students, but she is still totally one of my favorites.

Another student, who happens to be getting a lot of attention these days, is the New Girl. She showed up in my 4th Block yesterday, and quickly developed a swarm of admirers. Today, she was the first one to arrive in class and I had to intervene when I noticed a gaggle of 8th grade girls, none of whom were even my students,  crammed in my doorway mean muggin’ her across the room. I shooed the girls away by shouting at them, “Don’t even think about bringing all your drama in here.” They stomped away glaring at me. The boys then moved in, crowded around her and got their “flirt” on. It was ridiculous. I think I’ll greet my boys at the door tomorrow with bibs they can wear to catch their drool. Also, the ITBS practice test scores for this class dropped 14% today- the boys were a little preoccupied. (Thank God she already took her state tests at her old school. I’ll have to make sure she’s out of the room when we test next week, otherwise, those poor fellas are going to tank big time.)

Also, I’ll need to make sure these guys are nowhere in sight next week. These ducks showed up outside my window 2nd Block Monday. I’m not sure where they came from, and I’m not sure why they chose to hang out by my window. I am sure, however, that not a lot was accomplished in that class that period. The custodian later informed me that he was pretty sure they’ve laid eggs. Great. It’s going to be a long 9 1/2 weeks.  

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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.

I’ll Drop Kick You and Your Little Dog Too!

Christmas Break is just around the corner, and believe me, EVERYONE is counting down the days.

Now that Thanksgiving Break (or as I like to call it, “The Little Tease”) is over, I have been trying my best to hang on to my sanity. Here are a couple of delights that have gotten me through the last few days:

1. Drop Kicking

For some reason, 8th graders think it’s okay to bring stuffed animals to school. My classroom had managed to stay stuffed animal free until last week. Somehow a student smuggled a stuffed dog wearing a dorag into my classroom. We were taking a test that day, so I was busy passing out materials as they filed in so I didn’t see it right away. I gave the instructions, set the timer and waited for the sounds of silence. Instead I ended up with a cluster of students all focused on this ridiculous stuffed toy that was now dancing its way across the desk tops.

I marched over to the group, and in one swift move, I snatched up the dog, turned and drop kicked it. It soared through the air, with its dorag flapping in the breeze like a cape. The dog landed on the floor behind my desk. I looked back to find a room full of students, staring at me with their mouths gaping open.

Me: “That’s right. It’s test taking time. If any of you want to continue playing, I’m going to open the window and start drop kicking students.”

Student: “Miss Lewis, you’re kind of mean.”

Me: “What was that?”

Student: “I said it’s test taking time?”

Me: “That’s right.”

2. Poo Water 

I have a sink in my classroom that doesn’t get much use. For one, my students never use it to wash their hands because they would much rather just squirt Germ-X all over the place. Also, the drinking fountain doesn’t work and on the rare occasions when a student uses the faucet to fill up a water bottle, or decides to put their head under the faucet to lap up the water like a dog, they complain that the water tastes like “poo water.”

Skip ahead to yesterday…

We are a third of the way through Catching Fire of The Hunger Games series, and I will admit the plot line is a little slow. I decided I would pop quiz my students as we read, in order to keep them alive, awake, alert and enthusiastic.

Me: (Shaking the cup that contains popsicle sticks with my students’ names written on them.) Listen up friends. Today as we read, I am going to stop when you least expect it. At that point, it’s Pop Quiz! I call it Pop Quiz because if I draw your stick and you get the question wrong, your neighbor gets to pop you one.

Student: Really?

Me: No. Not really. But let’s see…

Student: Poo water!

Me: What?

Student: If you call on someone and they don’t know the answer, they have to go over to the sink and take a drink of the poo water.

Me: Really?

Chorus of Random Students: Yah! Poo water!

Me: Ok. I like it.

And thus my new favorite activity was born. We call it “Poo Water.”

I ask a question, shake the cup, draw sticks and it’s game on. If a student can’t answer the question, which is always a result of them not listening and annoying the people around them, the rest of the class chants, “Poo Water! Poo Water!”

In my 4th Block, I had a student pretend he didn’t know the answer. He headed over to the sink with a defeated look on his face. He turned the water on and leaned over the sink. Meanwhile kids stood up at their desks to get a better look. Then at the last-minute, he whipped around and shouted, “Just kidding!” and shouted the right answer. The class erupted in cheers.

The best part is, “Poo Water” can now be applied to EVERYTHING we do. All I have to do is shake the cup-o-popsicle sticks, and ears perk up, eyes look forward, and kids scoot to the edges of their seats. They all want to see which classmates will have to drink the poo water.

Ridiculous, I know, but these day, we take the fun any way we can get it.

Let The Hunger Games Begin!

One book down, two more to go. We finished the 1st Hunger Games book today and I love how into it my kids are. How could they not be? These books are amazing!

I have one class who wants to write their own movie scripts, then go film it in the woods by the bike trail. We already filmed a couple of scene in my first block. They were craptastic at best.

I have another class who wants to make a Hunger Games Cookbook filled with recipes from the various Districts and the Capitol. Actually, I could get on board with that.

For some reason, all my classes shot down my suggestion: “Hunger Games the Musical.” Hmmm….

We did watch the new Official Hunger Games Trailer at least three times in each class today. We  I was so excited, I didn’t know if I should cry, or pee my pants. If you haven’t seen it yet, here it is:

FYI: If anyone should care, all 3 books are available for free through the Smart Phone Android Market. (Go to Aps Search, keyword “mockingjay” and enjoy!)

Beware of Sharks & Justin Bieber

Sometimes I like to do things to annoy my students. I know. Shocker.

Exhibit A: My latest addition to our bookshelf corner. I put it up after they all left today. That’s how I roll.

"Can you BELIEBE all these awesome books?" My students are so going to HATE this.

EXHIBIT B: A more subtle approach…

The other day while we were reading The Hunger Games, I glanced up to scan my kidos- to make sure they weren’t sleeping, texting, cutting their neighbor’s hair- and when I looked back at the book, I mispronounced “sword” as “sw-ord.”

Student 1: Miss Lewis, it’s pronounced sword  like soared.

Me: That’s what I said. Sw-ord.

Student 2: No. You don’t say the “w.” It’s silent. Sword.

Me: Sw-ord

Student 1: You said it wrong again.

Me: Whatever. I don’t hear any differences. (I keep reading.) “I felt the weight of the sw-ord…”

Student 2: No Miss Lewis. You’re messing it up. “Ssss”

Me: “Ssss”

Student 2: “ord”

Me: “ord”

Student: Sword

Me: Sw-ord

Student 1: Never mind. Just read.

I probably should have looked ahead because the word “sword” was in almost every other sentence for the rest of the page. By the time I got to the bottom of it, I had the giggles so bad, I couldn’t have read correctly even if I wanted to.

ON A COMPLETELY UNRELATED NOTE BECAUSE I FORGOT TO POST IT OVER THE WEEKEND…

Last week, we were reading and I said:

Me: Katiss is afraid to go into the field of tall grass because there could be poisonous snakes, or quicksand in there.

Student 1: Or sharks.

Me: Sharks? In a field?

Student 1: Yah. In that lake.

Me: I think sharks like their water a little more salty.

Student 2: No, there are freshwater sharks now.

Student 1: See. That’s what I’m talking about.

Me: Ok. I see what you mean.

Student 1: I tell you Miss Lewis. Sharks are livin’ everywhere. They be growin’ in lakes, they be growin’ in your bathtub… they even be growin’ in your dishwater.

Me: Ok. Now you’re just being ridiculous.

And now- Here’s a special BONUS for those of you who read this post all the way through. In October we had Parent Teacher Conferences. The 8th grade teachers all hold our conference appointments in the library. To direct traffic, we place signs around the building. One of our students took some creative liberties with one of our signs. This was the end result.

Who knows how long our sign was like this...

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!

>Full Moon Madness

>

Me: “You guys have all gone crazy! It is beyond sad when I can tell it is a full moon based on the fact that all of you are acting like lunatics!”

Student: “It’s not a full moon.”

Me: “It has to be. I can’t think of any other reason why I’m seeing this kind of behavior.”

Student: (taking out his iPod to show me his lunar cycle app) “See?”
(We both look at it and sure enough… full moon.)

Here’s a recap of some of today’s events:
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