A funny thing happened on the way to Fahrenheit 451...

In class today I was joking (for some reason) that Mars was made of cheese just like the Moon.  One of my students said, "no, the Moon is made of tacos!"  Another student said, "if the Moon is made of cheese and Mars is made of cheese, then what is Uranus made out of?"  She stopped at about "Uranu" but boy was that one of the funniest things I've heard in a while.  Simply hilarious.  I love that girl.  She is a super sweet and intelligent girl.  



One of my students got it yesterday.  I was giving them the Greek and Latin root words to go with their prefixes and suffixes we have already learned (or mostly learned).  One of the first ones I went over was "bibli, biblio" and asked what it meant.  A couple of girls said book.  Yay!  Then one of the girls said "bibliophile" and said what it meant.  One of the other roots I gave them was "phil, philo."  One of the boys said "hey, bibliophile!"  It was like DING DING DING.  Thank you.


Just a thought

I realized today that I separate what I do from the term "work."  I never say I'm going to work.  I say I'm going to school or I'm going to teach.  Work is not what I call it.  I think for some people it is or becomes work in the normal, regular I-don't-love-my-job way.  I also don't call it a job.  It is school.  It is teaching.  It is leading.  It is learning.  And I like it thataway.


R. E. S. P. E. C. T.

Yesterday was the dreaded suffix quiz for my sophomore English class.  They have had (once again) about two weeks to study for this quiz.  First period, immediately after they start on the quiz, I start getting all the questions.  "If everyone fails, can we retake this?" and the like.  I don't like to give retakes or anything like that.  Students should be responsible for learning the material for the required time.  That is how I feel about.  Of course, I told them if EVERYONE failed that I would have to do something different.  I knew they wouldn't all fail. And I know that the SOUTH KOREAN foreign exchange student, upon glancing, looks like he got  one hundred percent correct.  
Fast forward.  Sixth period.  "Do you know all these suffixes?"  I was asked by a student.  
"Yes, of course I do."
"Then tell me what 'ade' means."
"I do not have to. I am not taking a quiz.  I passed high school and college and grad school just fine."
"If you're so intelligent, tell me what it means."
"I do not have to prove anything to you or any other student."
"Then I've lost all respect for you as my teacher."

This was the moment that I got angry and walked out of the room and down the hall to ask if anyone would like to take my class for a few minutes.  And someone did.  And another person also went in and talked to them for a few minutes.

I went back and we had our quiz.  Very quietly, we had our quiz.  

Normally this student wouldn't have been blurting out such a harsh statement.  He is an overall good kid.  He makes good grades and is a higher level thinker than most of the other students I have.  

It's hard to understand why a student would challenge you so when you are VERY MUCH ON THEIR SIDE.  I am a supporter of this kid.  He's kinda nerdy so I root for him, you know?  So it's shocking in a not-so-good way when this happens.

I was angry for about ten minutes, then I moved on.  During passing period between 7th and 8th periods, he apologized to me.  I'm glad.  I didn't want to be angry with this kid for too long.  He's a good kid.

My guess is that he was angry that he was about to fail my quiz.

I also gave both of those classes the "choice" lecture.  If you choose not to study, etc.  Twice.  


Accomplishing something. Sometimes.

A kid from my AP English class last year wrote this to me today via Facebook:

i finished Brave New World last night; I just want to say that this has sparked a newfound interest in literature for me. I'll be spending the bulk of my free time in the 7 story block of marble called the Alkek Library.



I have a student who is incredibly quiet.  He was in my freshman English class for all of 50 days last year (that was as long as I was there, he was actually there the whole year).  I barely heard his voice.  Once, briefly for a moment, I did. It's not that he doesn't talk at all.  He chooses certain folk to speak to, though it is very low usually, very quiet.  He said one tiny thing to me last year.  He smiles a TON and blushes and is adorable.  This is a great kid.  He studies and does very well.
After my students had taken their prefix quiz, we went over it together.  I had this student's paper on top.  Let's call him Stephen.  Stephen's quiz was on top of all the other student quizzes.  I noticed he had gotten every question correct. YAY!  I like to ask them to answer aloud and when I got to one prefix, no one answered.  So I said, "Well, I know Stephen got it right, so what is it?" And he answered.  In a plain and normal everyday voice just like that in front of the entire class, he answered.  I was so excited.  I told everyone about this.  Stephen said something aloud to me, to the class, in front of everyone.  I emailed his parents, I told all my colleagues. I had never been happier.  I didn't think it could get any better.



We were reading a story in class.  In a rare moment of whatever, maybe insanity, maybe partial sanity, whatever it was, I had them reading aloud to each other.  I know they are supposed to be able to do this.  But it becomes chaotic often.  There are the kids who want to read.  They are good at it.  They know it.  They like it. Then there are the laggers.  The ones who read like they don't know what they're reading.  Because they don't.  They have basically zero comprehension as they read aloud and they get nothing out of it.  It sounds as if they do not understand the language at all.  Mostly because they do not understand it at all.  Therefore, I don't usually like to do this.  Anyway, getting back to today, they are reading aloud.  I am dictating when to pick the next reader, but not, at least at first, choosing readers for them.  They are to pick the next reader.  It was not too surprising when the second reader chose Stephen to read.  I said, "Brian, are you really going to do this to Stephen, make him read?"  He said, "yes."  I looked to Stephen and said, "you okay with this, you wanna do it?"  Stephen just shrugged, so I said, "go for it!" in my peppy I'm-an-inspirational-teacher voice.  
And he did it.  
He read about five paragraphs worth.  It was GLORIOUS.  He is a very good reader.  He spoke at a fairly normal level.  Of course, I'm not sure the entire class could hear him, but most could.  I could hear him and that's all I cared about.  He was calm about it.  He didn't have issues with pronunciation and it was good.  He did very well.  I am exploding with pride and happiness.  

Then, I began picking the next readers.  I hadn't heard some of these kids read aloud before and this was my chance. The severely dyslexic kid, should I choose him?  I have heard from many teachers that he has made super strides and that he has come really far with coping with his dyslexia.  He works very well for me.  He does sufficient work and although I sometimes need to give him alternate types of assessment, he is a bright kid.  Well, here goes.  It was Cody's turn.  He read beautifully.  He didn't stumble much, not even over the word "admonitions."  It was marvelous.  

All in all, this was a brilliant day.


The importance of prefixes

I gave my sophomore English classes a list of prefixes to learn.  These go along with some of the Greek and Latin roots we will be learning.  When I handed these out, there were several students who scoffed.  One comment I heard was "uh, we learned this in first grade."  That was from a student I like to call "Homeschool."  I knew they had NOT learned these in first grade, nevertheless, they had two weeks, I repeat, TWO WEEKS to study these prefixes.  Now prefixes seem quite simple at first. You've got pre, post, in, im, things like that.  But on the other hand you've got ante, trans, amphi and ones like these.  And yes, for amphi one of the answers given was frog.  Many students did not look at these prefixes at all until the day of the quiz when I gave them 15 minutes (yes, I AM quite generous) to look over them.  Although the one student I expected to do well made a 100, most students did not do very well at all.  The one who made the comment of learning this is first grade got a grade of 48.  SUCKA!  Progress reports out yesterday show that this quiz has left many a good student with a failing grade.  Oops.
We have moved on to suffixes.  Our quiz for these is on Friday.  We'll see what happens.  I wonder if little Miss Homeschool will do any better on this one.