Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Arkansas Lovin'

A couple weeks ago, we were reading the story, "On The Sidewalk Bleeding" by Evan Hunter, which is about a gang member who gets stabbed and is lying in the street, dying, and contemplating the life decisions that led him to this point. I was trying to teach my students how to use context clues to determine certain details about the story that the author doesn't just come out and say. We read the following passage...

He wondered if Laura would be angry. He had left the jump to get a package of cigarettes. He had told her he would be back in a few minutes, and then he had gone downstairs and found the candy store closed. He knew that Alfredo's on the next block would be open. He had started through the alley, and that was when he had been ambushed.

...and then I asked my students who they thought Laura was to the main character, Andy. Based on very little information, guesses ranged from girlfriend to fiancee to cousin to sister. All were legitimate guesses because this is the first time we had heard about Laura. We then read...

He could hear the faint sound of music now, coming from a long, long way off. He wondered if Laura was dancing, wondered if she had missed him yet. Maybe she thought he wasn't coming back. Maybe she thought he'd cut out for good. Maybe she had already left the jump and gone home. He thought of her face, the brown eyes and the jet-black hair, and thinking of her he forgot his pain a little, forgot that blood was rushing from his body.

Someday he would marry Laura. Someday he would marry her, and they would have a lot of kids, and then they would get out of the neighborhood. They would move to a clean project in the Bronx, or maybe they would move to Staten Island. When they were married, when they had kids.

...and I re-asked the question: "Who is Laura." Everyone shouted out that it was his girlfriend.

I asked, "How do we know it wasn't a family member?" A student replied that he would never talk about marrying a family member or fantasize about her hair or eyes.

I then said, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, "Great answer, at least I hope he's not talking about his sister."

One student who is pretty funny, but pretty quiet and doesn't say a whole lot, raises his hand and I call on him, thinking he has something good to add to the conversation. I was wrong, but couldn't stop laughing at his response.

AB: "Mr. Lowe, I get what you're saying about context clues, but don't you think it would change depending on where you read the story?"

Me: "Yeah, I guess so, why?"

AB (completely serious for humor's sake): "Well, we in Tennessee think there's no way it could be his sister. But have you ever been to Arkansas? I bet they read this in Arkansas and think, 'Yeah, that could probably be his sister.' "

The classroom erupted and I tried to keep a straight face, but couldn't help but bend over laughing because the joke was set up so well and the delivery was phenomenal.

Being a smart-alec myself, I can appreciate a good joke at Arkansas's expense.

Which leads me to my dad's favorite joke:

"How do you know toothpaste was invented in Arkansas?"


"Because if it were invented in any other state, it would be called teethpaste."

Cue the laughtrack.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

My Mini Michael Jackson

We just finished up our short story unit, where we learned about the parts of plot diagram (introduction, rising action, climax, etc.). To introduce plot summary, we took notes on each part and then we watched the entire 13-minute version of Michael Jackson's "Thriller."

All of the students LOVED it because they were familiar with the song and it's one of the coolest videos of all time. Throughout the day, I'd see students mouthing the words and getting into it, but all of that paled in comparison to one student, DJ, who is in my last class and got to groovin'. It's my last period of the day and I was sitting at my desk when he began dancing. It was so good that I had to pull out my phone discreetly and put it behind a stack of books to capture the greatness.

I'd like to especially note how he's still dancing even when he's filling out his plot diagram. Also, the twitching about the 0:23 mark is mirroring the beginning of the "Thriller dance." Hilarious.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I Better Watch My Back

Today, my classes took their first unit test of the year. On the test I included a section that assessed the vocabulary words that we have covered so far this year. A question required the students to use the word "hesitate" correctly in a complete sentence.

I didn't have any hiccups until one boy, HK, an honors student, raised his hand while taking the test.

HK: "Are you going to be grading these?"

Me: "Of course I'm going to grade them."

HK: "Oh, okay, I just wanted to make sure."

It struck me odd that he would ask that, but I moved on with my day. As I was grading his class's tests during a later period, I figured out why he wanted to know if I was grading them.

Response: "Before TPing Mr. Lowe's house, we all hesitated for a moment to think of the possible consequences."

I better get my hose and flood lights ready for the assault. Except that I have his address, but he doesn't have mine, so I might go on the offensive. HK won't even know what hit him.

Other funny responses:
TP: "I predict that we will beat Snowden on Monday because I'm sick and tired of losing." (He's the starting quarterback of the 0-3 football team)

KJ: "I predict that B & R will win homecoming king and queen because they are the perfect couple." (Young love)

And DR's gems...he mos def got an F.
Question: "What does AIMS stand for?"
Answer: "Am I Missing Something?"
DR's Response: "It's a disease."

Question: "What does ISLAND stand for?"
Answer: "I'm So Lost And Need Details."
DR's Response: "Where ppl go for vacations."

Question: "Find two examples each of direct and indirect characterization."
Answer: "Anything remotely associated to ANY character in the story."
DR's Response: "Yes."

Oi vey, he's got some work to do.