Saturday, February 28, 2009

Take NOTHING for Granted

Yesterday, I broke one of the Cardinal Rules of Teaching: "Never read something out loud that you have not examined ahead of time."

It's just that the students were so excited about their projects and were all but hopping on one foot for me to read them out loud. Except for that one student who is always hopping on one foot because he has emergencies. But I digress.

You see, for homework on Thursday night, my first graders use their spelling words in sentences as practice for Friday's test. I let them do this in whatever form or fashion that keeps their attention. I purposely keep the assignment open-ended because I've found that my students can be far more creative then I am if given the opportunity.

So, every Friday morning they show up with spelling masterpieces. We meet on the carpet and I reveal all the clever work, often to spontaneous applause. First graders are nothing if not supportive of original (for a six year old) ideas.

B has used her words in a word search. E has written her sentences on a six foot piece of paper rolled into a scroll. J used foam letters to spell his sentences. Once, C even used a special ink that could only be seen seen when a blue light (which he supplied) was shone on it. Ohhhh! Ahhhh! Everyone is making a mental list of the great projects they will produce next Friday.

So, I get to R's project. It is a thick book with many staples for the binding. It is apparent he has worked long and hard on it. He is sitting at my feet fairly humming with anticipation, smiling broadly. I read the title, "The Story of X". X is R's arch nemesis. This should have tipped me off, but R's innocent enthusiasm has won me over.

I begin reading. Outloud. The pictures are detailed. The writing is full of spelling list words. The teacher in me is thinking, "What's the connection with X?" Maybe they are not sworn enemies after all.

Until I get to the last page. I glance at the illustration, and for all the world it looks like a stick figure X with a mug in his hand. A mug that is dripping suds. Like beer suds. I slam the book closed. Danger, Will Robinson!

Do you know the definition of a nanosecond? It is the period between the time I closed the book and the time it took for R to jump up. And crow triumphantly, "THAT'S THE ONLY TRUE PART. X SIPS HIS DAD'S BEER WHENEVER HE WANTS TO!"

The next nanosecond? X jumps up and says, "YEAH! WHENEVER I WANT TO!"

I give a brief "We should not drink beer in first grade. We cannot drink until we are 21. I am OLD and I do not drink." (Yes. I said all those words out loud with my mouth.)

And then I said whatever any sane first grade teacher would say in this circumstance.


Where I observed the new BFFs in my class: R and X. Probably working on their spelling words. Or not.

I think they are about to overthrow the Kingdom of First Grade. I'm glad Spring Break is coming soon.

1 comment:

Craig Weeks said...

Couldn't you have just told them, "Boys and girls, I'm just not jiggy with this."?