Wednesday, April 14, 2010

31 More Days

31 days of school left until summer vacation. Until then, a few more middleschool tales:

Have I told you lately how thrilled I am to know I can do 6th grade math? The other day we started learning mixed numbers and improper fractions. One boy was trying to explain how to figure out how many whole numbers are in mixed numbers (how many quarters in 5 1/4) and he said you need to do "backward multiplication." So now the class has a new term for division: "bacward multiplication."

Two boys want to come over to my house to pick up dog poop. They will only charge me $5.00 but would like me to make supper. When I informed them that about the only thing I have in the freezer to make for supper was frozen pizza they said that was even better. Now, I live in a different town then these boys, I'd need written parental consent, and I'm not sure I want them knowing where I live -- other than those three factors I'd love to have them over!

A 6th grader was busted for possession of pot. He had showed a few kids the stash, those kids narced, the police liason officer searched his locker, and he is now suspended pending expulsion. He is not the brightest kid plus is a bully whom I contend is a sociopath. The kids who turned him in hang out with him half heartedly but know he is bad news and often report him for bullying. They were awed at how stupid he was to have the drugs. A typical day for him was to sit in class and never do any work. The mother contends he is smart (none of us has seen one indication of this and believe all the swagger is to cover his lack of intelligence) but doesn't seem sure of what to do with him. He has no use for school (yes, a child who wants to be left behind), but I worry about what happens after suspension. The idea that he will be home schooled stretches the imagination. These are situations when I think vocational schools even at 6th grade would be more productive all around.
The LD teachers have arranged a fieldtrip to Miller Stadium for the 6 - 8th grade learning disabled students to watch a Brewer's game. Cost: $10.00. If a child cannot afford the $10 there will be money made available. One child is not going because the parent thinks Milwaukee is too far away (2 hour drive). Another cannot go because the mother doesn't want him getting home so late (5:00 p.m.) Another girl announced it would be boring so she isn't going -- we are all relieved by her disinterest! A father wanted to chaperone but staff assured him the bus was full. It was later explained to me no one was sure that dad could pass a background check! This trip will be educational beyond description. So many of these kids do not get to do such things, don't know how to conduct themselves in public places, don't get to go far beyond their home cities. It should be fun and very interesting for all of us.

Science test on biomes. (How many know, without running to Google, what a biome is?) We have studied this endlessly, yet a few items just escaped the little darlin's. Students were asked to name an animal that lives in the desert (same question regarding an animal in a tundra), describe an adaptation of that animal, and whether the adaptation is behavioral or physical. This was a pretty interesting unit and we watched videos from "Planet Earth" that repeatedly discusses such. Imagine, then, my amazement upon seeing students state that arctic foxes are desert creatures. Or that a humpback whale lives in the tundra.

School dress code states that shorts or skirts must be as long as your fingertips when arms are at your side. (That's kind of short although as someone who went to high school during the mini-skirt years and who is amazed I got through school with any modesty intact, the fingertip rule isn't all that unreasonable.) To get around the rule the girls have taken to wearing leggings under skirts and shorts. Leggings under shorts is one darn ugly fashion statement. I understand the "need" to subvert rules but please, leggings as a way to do it is a definite fashion don't. The ugliest so far was a girl in a white shirt, white shorts, and black leggings.

With the advent of nice weather the kids are outside more which means there are many 6th graders on crutches, with ace bandages, slings, and cuts and scrapes. It's easy to forget that not long ago sixth grade was considered elementary school and that this age group is still rough and tumble, play outside age. They certainly need to run off the energy whether it is after school or on the weekend. Each Monday brings another wounded child back into the school fold.

These students are still slightly in awe at hearing a swear word in a movie. "Hell" will bring a chorus of "that's a bad word" from the class. (Cracks me up because I'm pretty sure many of them could outswear me) In 7th hour yesterday D. returns from the bathroom, comes up to me and whispers, "In one of the stalls in the bathroom (boys) someone wrote 'b-i-t-c-h-e-s' (he spells this out) and drew pictures of balls and a dick." What cracked me up about this is how careful he was not to say "bitches" but had no problem saying "balls" and "dick."!! My preference would have been for the reverse!

Usually the end of the school year brings about squirrelier behavior than the months before -- from both students and teachers! So who knows what tales I'll have to tell in the coming days!

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