Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Groundhog Day...Again

Remember your first year of teaching?  Wasn't ignorance bliss?

Yours, I mean-- not the students'. You taught something once, and they learned the skill. Ahhhhhh.

Wasn't it frustrating to have to teach skills they should have learned in 5th, 6th and 7th grade?   I mean, what's going on?  Are those teachers just kicked back reading romance novels while the kiddos run amok?

Once you put it all together you gasped in horror.  Those teachers were teaching, so were you. Your students were going to advance to the next grade with no ability to demonstrate some of the lessons that you taught them.

Ouch.  Yeah.  I can still feel the burn.

I feel it every time an 8th grader asks me what similes, metaphors, hyperbole and personification are...again.

And again.

If you're like me, that last one always gets you.  Personification has all of the quietude of Vegas.  PERSONification.  It's like a neon sign with dancing girls wearing fancy costumes and big, foam "We're #1" fingers pointing to P-E-R-S-O-N.  It's the official "If it were a snake" literary device.

I feel it for every apostrophe a child rains down on his paper to make something plural. I feel it every time there's an "a" slammed next to a "lot."   Contractions?  To, Two, Too/  Were, We're, Where/  There, Their, They're...   I could go on.

I'm not talking about the Queen's English.  I'm talking about what it takes to read and write on grade level.  Lawd.

This morning I stopped by the workroom after dawn cracked to flip the switch on the copier, so it would be ready for the first user.  Someone had left a worksheet behind.  Golden.  It was full of commonly misused and confused words.

Are you going to suffocate under (to, two, too) many papers to grade?  (Your, You're) students are over (there, they're, their) crawling out of the library's window towards freedom.

Okay.  It didn't say that exactly, but that was the format.  Eighth graders can always use more practice with these skills.  AND I just happened to read about a cool dry-erase marker technique on a Facebook page.  Teachers were advising a French instructor to allow students the chance to write their vocabulary words on their desks for practice. They are (They're) easily erased.  Cool.

So, instead of handing out the worksheet, I read each sentence aloud and indicated the word that I wanted them to spell.  They wrote it.  I walked around the room to check their work.  If they were correct, I told them to erase the word to get ready for the next.  If they were incorrect, they tried again.  And, yes, I retaught contractions.


And I bet the fat lady hasn't sung on that one yet either.

(Luckily, I stocked up on dry-erase markers at Walgreens during the Back-To-School sales like a true hoarder who had no idea how 50 markers would come in handy during this school year.)


  1. This is just fabulous! What a wonderful lesson... You are (You're) an inspiration. Really.

  2. Thanks...If I could just get those papers to grade themselves, I could do a whole lot more inspiring!

  3. Bless you for valuing correct grammar and trying to instill that in our future....I just want my dear little students to stop writing 'in' for 'and'. For example, Camryn in Chloe are playing checkers. Ah, the lazy southern way of not opening our mouths when we speak....can't decide whether I want to sigh or scream!