Wednesday, December 01, 2004

All in the same day...

The day began with an eighth grader stripping down to his undershirt in the coat closet of Ms. Pascal's homeroom. I was covering the homeroom, as Ms. P. was running late, and looked up to see this student with his arms stuck in his shirt sleeves above his head and nothing covering his chest but an undershirt. I couldn't very well holler at him from across the room, or every kid in the room would have turned to look, so I just stared like a deer in the headlights. All of a sudden, he realized what he'd done, and still holding his shirt above his head, he started saying, "No, no, Ms. Frizzle!" That got everyone's attention. Now he was having his own frozen-in-the-headlights moment. "Put. Your. Shirt. Back. On."

The kids love the mammals posters they are working on. It's amazing how well they respond when you give them a choice, even a fairly superficial one like a list of 20 mammals to choose among. Several have asked to do mammals that are not on the list, which is fine with me as long as they realize that they're on their own as far as research is concerned. I gave them one class period today to work on their research, using the internet and books that I brought in from the library (the New York Public Library allows you to borrow up to 30 items at one time; I currently have 26 books on mammals checked out under my name, roughly 80% of the mammals section of my branch library). I'm feeling a little guilty because the project is straight research - no real analysis or anything - but at the same time, I think it is giving them the opportunity to consolidate a lot of skills and feel really confident. If I did it again, I'd probably ask them to research an endangered mammal and explain why it is endangered and what people are doing to protect it. Or perhaps to research a "misunderstood" mammal - like bats or wolves - and explain why the mammal has a bad rep and what the truth is. Those would still be mostly research, but perhaps a slightly higher level of critical thinking. Regardless, the kids love this project and are eagerly sharing what they've learned with each other and with me.

I learned something today: the duck-billed platypus has poisonous spurs on its limbs. Hopefully tomorrow one of my eighth-grade platypus experts will tell me what they use the spurs for...

At the end of the school day, I was rushing downstairs to grab a soda before afterschool, when a group of 4 or 5 of our eighth grade boys shouted, "Ms. Frizzle!" I stopped, and they caught up to me. "Where are you going?" I asked. "We're taking a ballet class!" they said enthusiastically. If you asked me to pick out the five eighth graders most likely to audition for the free ballet classes being offered at a nearby school, these boys would be down at the bottom of the list. One is the school bully, another is football-obsessed and (there's no other way to put this) ROUND. They saw my puzzled look and became even giddier. "Ms. Pascal told us that most football players take ballet to get stronger and more flexible!" I chuckled and told them she's absolutely right, and in fact, a lot of ballet dancers could take any one of them in a fair fight - they're STRONG. I am encouraging this newfound interest in ballet. I'm philosophically behind it 100%, I think it would help some of our boys get in better shape, and if these boys perform the Nutcracker, you'd better believe I want to see it!

I wrote a long post yesterday about how "amniotic sac" was the word of the day, but the computer ate it as I tried to post. So you'll just have to wait until later this week...

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