December 11, 2007
“We’re going to be studying medieval times, class!”
“That’s… Okay, think about Kings and Queens and princesses and castles and knights.”
“WAIT MISS. PRINCESSES ARE REAL?”
“Yes. Princesses are real. The daughter of a King is called a princess.”
“Miss! Are dragons real?”
“No. Dragons are made up.”
“Is Dracula real?”
“Well… There really was a guy named Vlad the Impaler and Transylvania is real, but vampires aren’t real.”
“Is Frankenstein real?”
“No. Frankenstein isn’t real.”
“What about the Mummy?”
“Does anyone have any serious questions?”
“Miss? How do you REMEMBER all this stuff?”
December 7, 2007
I’m home sick. Well — I’m home almost sick. I’m home if-I-don’t-take-a-day-off-I’ll-get-incredibly-sick-and-die. And as always, I’m spending my day off grading, lesson planning, and waiting for someone to come fix something in my apartment. Being an adult sucks.
I got a great email from a student yesterday; we’ve been talking about the Roman and Byzantine empires in class, and he’s reading Dan Brown’s Demons and Angels (I think). He found a reference to Emperor Constantine and was so excited (because we talked about it! In class!) that he had to email me immediately. It made him happy, because the things he learned were actually useful, and it made me happy, because the ancient history I was teaching turned out to be actually useful. Everyone wins! (Except Dan Brown, because those books are terrible and I just don’t have the heart to tell my students that when they’re excited about reading.)
December 4, 2007
As it turns out, 9th graders OVERWHELMINGLY believe that gladiator fights are totally okay and should be reinstated immediately. They are slightly less in favor of man vs. lion, but only because it’s “not a fair fight.”
November 29, 2007
I am a word-nerd. The kids have learned this. It’s gotten to the point where I can say things like “If you don’t all be quiet, I won’t tell you where the word ‘assassin’ comes from!” and they will hush each other to listen. We spent a bunch of time last week on the -cides, suicide, fratricide, infanticide. They were fascinated. Today was ‘decimate ‘(which I compared to decimal and decade). Sure, some of the kids’ eyes glaze over, but more and more of them are coming over to the dark side. It’s never occurred to them before that words mean something and sometimes you can figure out what they mean by breaking them down! I’m here to help.
November 27, 2007
Grades go in Friday, which means students are panicking. I had a long conversation yesterday with a young lady who has been alternately napping/screaming through my class all year. Most of the other teachers really dislike her, but we get along fine, maybe because I am totally honest with her when she’s annoying, but work really hard not to be mean.
Her: “What can I do tonight to fix my grade? Can I go home and make up some missing homeworks?”
Me: “It’s not just about homeworks. It’s about participating the right way in class every day.”
Her: “Listen, if you want me to, I’ll take this textbook home and read the whole thing and write you a report for tomorrow. Will that get me to a 70?”
Me: “Your grade right now is a 40, so probably not. Plus, I don’t want a report. I want you to come in to class every day and participate and hand in the homework. Also, your project is two weeks late.”
Her: “Okay, so if I do the project and give it to you tomorrow and I go home and do extra credit can I get a 70?”
Me: “No. It’s about every day. You can definitely get a 70 for third marking period, but you’re going to have to bring your A-Game to class every day.”
Her: “So, what can I do tonight for extra credit?”
I feel her pain, and I hate failing kids who really want to try and do better. But I think it’s the wrong message to tell them they can make up for a whole marking period of shitty work in the last couple of days. Teaching! So unexpectedly full of moral dilemmas!
November 19, 2007
Y’all, I have a student so dyslexic he actually said out loud in class today:
“Wow, that’s Greece? OGM!”
It was particularly funny watching the other students slowly work out what he was talking about.
November 16, 2007
Technically I teach “global history and geography.” So today, in lieu of a well-thought out lesson, I did half a well-thought out lesson and half an episode of Planet Earth.
I thought it might be too dry and British for the kids. Not everyone likes to watch sand dunes, after all. (The “dry” thing wasn’t a desert joke, sorry.) But no! They were totally excited and engaged and asked to watch more next week. I teach inner-city kids with no concept of “jungle” or “mountain.” I’m going to show lots of clips of lots of different episodes over the next few weeks. And it’s going to be awesome.