Interactive Learning

Jay: Ms. A., I don’t like your hair color. You should change it.

Me: Jay, I don’t like your nose. You should change it.

Whole Class: Ooooh!

Jay: That wasn’t very nice!

Me: Really?

Jay: I guess I wasn’t very nice, either, huh? Never mind. Your hair’s okay I guess. I mean, if you like it.

Me: And your nose is okay I guess — if you like it.

Whole Class: [giggles]

Jay [heavy sigh]: Can I just say I’m sorry and go sit down?

Me: That would probably be a really good idea.

Washing Paper Plates

Life in a second language learner’s classroom:  

We are having a fund raiser spaghetti dinner at the school tonight.  The teachers are to be the wait-staff.  One of my students asked, “What’s wait-staff?”  I said, “You know, cooks, waiters, dishwashers — the folks that do the work so all you have to do is sit and eat.”

“Dishwashers!”  Jimmy exclaimed.  “You’re going to wash paper plates!?”

Before I could answer Jake chimed in, “Gross!  They’d better wash my plate or I’m not eating!”

The class cracked up laughing. Jake looked around in surprise.  Jimmy pulled a sheet of paper from his notebook and waved it him.  “Paper, Jake!  The plate is going to be made of paper!”

Jake looked at me and demanded incredulously, “We have to eat off paper?” At this point his classmates were all but rolling on the floor laughing and he was edging toward defensive.

I went to the cupboard and pulled out a paper plate.  I handed it to Jake.  He turned bright red and said, “Oh.”  Then he exclaimed, “Well why didn’t somebody just say so?”

Jimmy put his face in his hands and muttered, “Oi vey!”

Nice Try ….

I only accept writing papers after one-on-one conferences. Each student receives personalized and individual writing instruction — if they show up at their scheduled conferences. They are held during class time, but some kids show up with unfinished papers, and we don’t conference until their work is done. The student’s final paper is usually due the day of the conference. I grade it and return it to them on the spot, while they watch.

Today I called Ami to my desk to speak to her about her assignment. I had a conference with her yesterday over it, and explained her grade to her. I retaught a couple of points on paragraphing, and sequencing, then I returned her paper to her — unfortunately, I had forgotten to put the grade in the grade book.

So today I asked her if she could return the paper to me because I had lost her grade. She said she had already taken it home. I asked her if she remembered the grade. She said she didn’t, but it was an 80-something. I told her that the only thing I remembered for certain, was that I had taken 10 points off because it was late, so — since the mistake was mine — I was going to give her a 90. Was she okay with that? Of course she said yes.

Then I called K.C. to my desk. I showed him the empty spaces in my gradebook and asked him where his three missing assignments were. He pointed at Ami and said. “I turned them in the same time she turned hers in. You must have lost them all together.”

I stared at him until he started to squirm. “What were the papers about?” I asked.

He wiggled some more. “You know,” he said. “You assigned them”

And he didn’t know because he didn’t do them. “K.C.,” I said, “here is your conference card with your scheduled appointments. Do you see the note I made by each one?” I showed him where I had written, not ready. “We haven’t done any conferences. You haven’t had any papers to turn in.”

He repeated forcibly, “I turned them in. You lost them.”

I said, “Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen again. Bring me the assignment you’ve been working on for the last two days so I can see how far you’ve gotten.”

Again he starts to squirm, “I actually haven’t started it yet. I was about to when you called me up here.”

“Uh-huh,” I said, tapping my computer screen. “That’s the same excuse you gave me for everyone of these missing asignments.”

He just turned around and walked away.

Splash Dance

We were on our way back to the classroom at the end of the day. I had just picked my students up from P.E. and the final dismissal bell was about to ring. Once they got in the classroom the kids were more interested in the air conditioning, the drinking fountain and cooling off then they were in trudging back out into the 97F day to go home.

“Ms. A., Cindy won’t quit touching my water bottle!”Deb wailed.

“What?!” I frowned, this seemed like a personal problem to me and I don’t usually handle those, but just in case I asked, “Why?”

Deb responded, “She says it’s cold and it feels good on her wrist.”

“Huh,” I said. “Let’s see it.” I took the bottle, a squirt top sports model designed to be frozen, and sure enough it was still icy cold. I put it to my wrist and said, “Whaddya know, she’s right!” Then I turned to Pansy, “Here, try it!” And Cyndi, Nessa, Jasmine, Rosie . . . .

“Hey!” Deb wailed.

I turned to her, “What?” She snatched her bottle from my hand, then turned it toward me and squeezed.

My left hand shot out and with two fingers I changed the angle of the bottle. She squirted herself in the face, but her friends didn’t quite see it that way, so a water fight ensued. Luckily I keep a spray bottle full of plain water handy for cleaning the whiteboard, and I was readily able to defend myself from all attacks. In the three minutes it took the bell to ring we were all thoroughly soaked. It was fun. We might try this again, but next time I hope we have the sense to take it outside!

Pizza — The Gift That Says, “I Love You.”

After I read OC’s blog this morning, I got to thinking of how low his cash flow is, and how long he has to conserve it until he finally gets paid, and I know good and well by now that the first luxury he cuts from his budget is food, so I decided to see if there was a pizza place in his neighborhood that delivers.

I do love the internet. It lead me to Alan at Papa John’s Pizza ( 1111 McCully St. Honolulu, HI). “Hi, Alan, I’d like to order a pizza. Do you deliver to UH at Manoa?”

“Yes, ma’am, we deliver to the dorms. Which one are you in?”

“Before we get there, we need to cover a couple of other points. I am calling from Las Vegas, and I want to order this pizza with my debit card. Can I do that?”

“Uhm, Ma’am? Las Vegas like, uh, Nevada?”


“Way cool! Hey guys, I got Las Vegas on the phone. . . . Huh? I dunno . . . . Uhm, Ma’am, you know you’re out of our delivery area, right?”

I laughed. “Yes, Alan. I want you to deliver a pizza to someone in the dorm. I want to pay for it with my Visa. Can I do that?”

“Oh, okay. Hang on.” Several seconds pass. Alan says, “Uhm, Ma’am, is there some reason your friend isn’t ordering this pizza himself?”

“Yes. It’s a surprise.”

“Oh, cool. No problem. We can do it.” Alan asks all the relevant questions, size, toppings, beverage, delivery address, phone number. Then he says, “When we get there, Ma’am, we’ll need you to show us the debit card and sign the receipt.”

“But, Alan, I can’t do that. I’m in Las Vegas.”

“Oh yeah, huh? Just a minute.” I hear muffled talking. Finally, apologetically, Alan says, “Okay, Ma’am, the manager says we can do this, but we’ll have to run your card before we deliver the pizza.”

“No problem,” I said. (That’s the only way they do it here!) After Alan and I said good-bye, I called OC on the phone and talked to him until the pizza arrived.

Shortly after hanging up the phone to open the door, he IMed me. This is what he had to say: “mmmmMMMmmmmm … I know, don’t talk with your mouthful … mmmmfrmmmffmmr.” And, of course, a couple of other things, including “thank you” and “you shouldn’t have,” while also admitting that he was starving. All-in-all, I’d say this was one of my more inspired gifts.