Thursday, March 17, 2011


Spring Break is awesome. That's about all I can say. One week all to myself has been in.cred.i.ble. This place is usually reserved for the cool and funny things my students do, but this is about the cool and funny things I do.

1. I made a stool for my wife because she's short and can't reach stuff.

2. I graded projects on our patio in 65-degree weather with delicious Italian food, then I busted out the big guy for the first time and got plenty of weird looks.

3. I accompanied my lovely wife to Mud Island so she could get her nails done, so instead of sitting in a cove of nail polish, I walked along the Mississippi River and took pictures. I'm no photographer.

4. I slept in until noon.

5. I played beach volleyball and listened to loud music.

6. I roamed aimlessly around a gigantic thrift store for an hour and a half and this is some of what I found.

Where else could you find a Vanilla Ice action figure? "Stop. Collaborate and listen."

I love Coca-Cola.

I'd be able to sleep okay at night if I had never seen this doll.

Not creepy at all. An authentic ball and chain from the federal penitentiary in Yuma, Arizona.

A legitimate bar. I'd definitely buy it if Dolly Parton came along.

A thrift shop wouldn't be complete without some weird book authored by Freud or Kinsey about human sexuality.

But the real winner of the day...

Nothing like Billy Clinton singing some old hits.

And there you have: Spring Break 2011.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Kingsbury Vibes

Last October, one of my students, TB, who is a regular on this blog, would NOT sit still for the life of him. He wouldn't get started on his group project and I needed a way to get him engaged.

He likes to rap. And he's actually pretty good.

Me: "T, you need to do your work. Which country are you doing? England?"

TB: "I don't feel like doing research."

Me: "What do you feel like doing?"

TB: "Rapping."

Me: "Okay, I can understand that. Well, rap me something about the Parliament and House of Commons."

TB: "How am I gonna do that?"

Me: "I don't know, you're the rapper."

I then told him to go home and make a rap about his experience at Kingsbury Middle School. It took about a month and I had since forgotten about my challenge, but he brought it in on a CD. Our school recently had a contest where students could submit school songs. Well, I think he won because our principal now plays it every day over the intercom.

Note the shout-out to this guy. "Ballers we are, harder and harder. Poppin' our collar, like Mr. Lowe and Order."

Just let me know if you want the song and I'll send it to you. It's gonna be famous one day.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Some New Gems

I asked the students to write either a poem or a song about an exciting event that has occurred in the past year. Here are two examples - one is just plain great and the other is kinda funny:

This first one is from a girl who moved here from Missouri about three weeks ago:

The day we moved
It was so unreal,
I was shook up and crazy,
I didn't know what to feel.

My world was spinning,
I almost fell down.
If I had a bright red nose,
I could be the clown.

My mom was laughing,
My ears were breaking,
My friends were gone,
My heart was aching.

My face was wet,
From familiar tears,
Not from happiness,
But out of fear.

Yet, that day, that beautiful day,
Was the most exciting one,
The battle of fears and sorrow
Was a battle that I had won.

This year was influential
But what was exciting was always confidential.
I have a class with Mr. Lowe and Ms. Ybarra,
Some of the hard work they give might even scare ya.
Some people have attitudes that need to be fixed,
Like a witch flyin' on her broom stick.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Young Love, Part Deux

I took this note during my enrichment period and then read it silently in front of the class, making lovey-dovey actions that only set everybody else's imaginations off about what was actually in the note:

AH: "Yeah, I'm D's biggest fan but it's like he won't give me a chance!!!!!!!!!

TL: "Chance at what?"

AH: "Being his gurl!!!!"

TL: "U know if he likes u?"

AH: "What do you mean?"

TL (quite plainly): "Does he like you?

AH: "IDK (I don't know, in layman's terms), I dislike rejection!!!"

TL: "So he doesn't like you?"

AH: "Can you ask him or something please? But don't just ask him, say something like I think AH is pretty, don't you think so????"

TL: "I will in math."

AH: "Ok!!! Thanks for being an awsome friend!!!! and after you ask him say you know she like y"

And that's where the mean Mr. Lowe swooped in and took the note like it was nobody's business. I wrote the note verbatim, except for the names, and, boy, was I glad that there was punctuation and only one spelling error. My kids are making progress.

"Wuv, twue wuv, is what bwings us togethaw today."

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Wundrful Theng

One of my students, B, is a gentle giant. She's taller than everyone else, which, to some, may make her intimidating at first glance, but once you speak to her, you realize that she'd rather nurse an injured bird back to health than beat up on a gaggle of hoodrats. She's one of my best students; she never needs me to babysit her or get on her case for not working. She never puts her head down. She never talks back. She raises her hand when something doesn't make sense. She tries and tries and tries again and again and again.

But she's dyslexic.

This caused her to be put into my inclusion class, which is a form of special education, or remediated learning. She can't spell very well at all, so people automatically think that she's not bright when they see her writing. But she is. She's so bright. And she's come a LONG way since the beginning of the year. I've worked with her on her spelling, and if you can get past the spelling errors, you'll find that what you just read is pretty great for her age. I spelled the title of this post, "A Wundrful Theng," to emphasize the fact that, although something is spelled wrong and not perfect on the surface, it can surprise you what is inside, and it's the same with B.

She also loves - no, admires - no, worships - no, would-just-in-front-of-a-train-just-to-see-one-more-game - the Memphis Grizzlies, our NBA team. They're having a contest where a Memphis student can submit an essay about his or her favorite teacher. I was very honored that B wrote this:

She's such a hard worker that she's coming into Saturday School tomorrow so that we can clean it up and type it to send in to the Grizzlies. I'm not the only one that's helped, so I wish she would've written it about all her teachers. Ms. Ybarra tosses math at her like it's nobody's business. I can hear Ms. Dugas, from across the hall, squawking (for humor's sake) stuff about the legislative and executive branches. Ms. Riser teaches her how to love the arts and, thus, life. It's a team effort, but she's benefitting from it.

Our gentle giant.