[Sticks one arm tentatively inside. Feels spider webs. Flips out. Does hippity-hoppity screechy octopus-style dance move until all spider webs are off.
[Reaches in with broom and clears entryway of cobwebs.]
[Lights match. Sees angry homeless spiders. Drops match. Screams. Runs. Screams some more.]
[Eventually comes back to make sure has not started fire by dropping match. Match is out. Spiders are gone. Soft bluish glow emanates from rectangular device in corner of room. Device beckons.]
[Tiptoes toward light. Sits down on slightly familiar wheeled object. Wiggles until feels more comfy.]
[Blows dust off tray of clicky things. Coughs. Sneezes. Looks for tissue. Finds none. Wipes nose on sleeve. Looks around. Pretends did not just wipe nose on sleeve.]
[Pops knuckles. Pops wrists. Pops neck. Pops knuckles again. Takes deep breath.]
[Smiles. Types some more. Backspaces to fix typos. Curses. Types again.]
[Checks Facebook. Goes back to typing.]
This is all just to say… I know. It’s been a really long time since I’ve posted anything to my blog. It’s been so long that WordPress is sending me emails like, “We recommend you post at least once a month!” and “It’s been a while since you posted,” and “Hey, you still have a blog, right?” Even my adoring fans* have started asking when I’m going to post something again.
* Ok, mainly just my dad.
So, here I am. I’ve clawed my way out of the piles of student papers and located my cute little office with my cute little computer with its cute little keyboard, and now that I’ve dusted off the cobwebs and sent the spiders scurrying, I plan to visit more often. I’ve missed it.
WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?
At school mainly. And at home grading papers. And at coffee shops grading papers. And sitting in my backyard grading papers. I graded, among other things, 174 expository essays, which took me roughly… hang on… carry the one… subtract the sleeping… FOREVER.
It wasn’t all bad though. Some of the essays were quite good, and others were funny. One student wrote in her introduction to an essay about benefits of learning from your mistakes, “Why does failing feel like climbing up a giant mountain, but when you get to the top, the view is nothing but bricks and bones?”
Nothing but bricks and bones? That’s some creepy stuff from a seventh grader. I may have to borrow that image for a short story.
My students also learned about procedural texts by writing how-to manuals. They had to write the step-by-step procedure for any simple task that could be done in less than fifteen minutes in the classroom. When they were finished, they brought all the necessary supplies for their task, swapped booklets at random, and proceeded to follow the instructions. That was a very amusing day. There were students making origami, braiding hair, doing push-ups, eating cereal, drawing penguins, and learning to throw a softball all at the same time.
The most unique manuals were:
- How to Clean Your Teeth (complete with toothbrush, paste, floss, and mouthwash)
- How to Make Cookie Dough (This involved a LOT of supplies and other students kept having to be shooed away from it, like flies.)
- How to Do a Perfect Plié (This involved extremely detailed instructions about “squeezing your butt” so it didn’t stick out.)
- How to Reverse Dab (described as “the move that took the world by storm”)
- How to Play the Cello (yes, she really brought her cello)
- How to Tell Time in a Room with No Clock (This manual gave step-by-step instructions for raising your hand, asking to go to the restroom, and then using the break to check the time on the clock in the hall.)
- How to Get a Girlfriend (which was adorable)
- How to Annoy a Teacher (This one was well-researched, thorough, and expertly executed. My “favorite” step was #3: “Raise your hand. When called on, pretend to think about a question for about 6 seconds, then say, ‘I forgot.’ Repeat this step 3-5 times.”)
[Note: This lesson was not my idea. I got it from one of my awesome coworkers.]
However, it hasn’t all been red pens and progress reports. Last week, for spring break, my hubby and I spent a few days at a cabin in Montana with no TV, no internet, no papers to grade, and no SCHOOL! Er… sort of. Actually the cabin was renovated from an old one-room schoolhouse, so it did have a chalk board, and some of the original desks, and pictures of the students, and several vocabulary flashcards. Yeah, now that I think about it, that was a strange choice of spring break getaway. But it was beautiful and severely lacking in stress. We saw lots of elk and bison, and I read a lot of books and made my first snowman. It was wonderful.
ANY WRITING NEWS?
And last month, the nonfiction beginning reader I wrote about octopuses and squids came out through the Scholastic Reading Club. If you have a kindergartner or first grader who’s interested in the ocean, you should check out the Smart Words Beginning Reader Pack #6: Ocean Animals in the April Seesaw catalogue because it includes my book and four others!
ANYTHING ELSE WE SHOULD KNOW?
Um… Staedtler Triplus Fineliners make excellent grading pens. And lukewarm coffee is better than no coffee at all, especially when a student is following detailed instructions about how to annoy you. And you should always stay on the path at Mammoth Hot Springs so you don’t accidentally get boiled alive. And the next time I blog, I’ll try to be a little more focused and a little less covered in dust and cobwebs.
Anyway, I promise to keep typing.