28 August 2004


To get ready for our spelling/vocab test tomorrow, the students have paired up and:
1. Defined their word
2. Identified why it might be hard to spell
3. Come up with a trick to remember the spelling
4. Presented it to the rest of the class

4th period

Little girl: (valiently presenting the word assumption) You remember AS and then SUM and then P-before-T-shun.
Other kid: What? As... sum? I don't get it.
Rest of class: (looking at word) GIGGLE GIGGLE!
Little girl: (patiently) AS - SUM - P-before-T-shun.
Class: GIGGLE GIGGLE! Whisper Giggle!
Ms. Backes: Or you could just remember ASS - UMP.
Class: <> Ms. Backes!
Ms. Backes: Oh, right, like you weren't thinking it anyway.
Girl: But... it's a bad word.
Ms. Backes: Yes, and if the bad word helps you remember how to spell, then hallelujah.

Kid (holding a straightened-out paperclip): Ms. Backes, can I stick this in my ear?

7th period

I was checking to see that all the groups had put the definition of their words on the back of their poster, and picked up a poster for the word "assumption." I found:

assumption, n. The act of assing.

At which point I literally laughed out loud. I don't remember the last time I laughed at a child while she was in the classroom, but I couldn't help it.


The best thing about today: Choosing someone from each class to read our daily poem in Spanish. Today's poem was Neruda's "Puedo Escribir," and it was so fun to hear it read in pretty Spanish. Also, it gave some exposure to kids who don't seem to get star attention very often (maybe because their English isn't too good) and celebrate the diverse talents and knowledge of the students. Afterwards, I read it again in English, and said that it was -- in my opinion -- the best break-up poem ever written in the history of the universe. Unfortunately, today was a big break-up day, apparently, and I ended up with a kid who'd just been dumped in three different classes. Whoops!

The worst thing about today: Knowing that a bunch of kids are going to get Fs on their poems, because they just didn't do them. Argh. Also, I'm not allowed to accept late work! It's against department policy. But I WANT to accept late work. It's a pain in the ass to grade, but at least then kids always have the option to bring their grades up.... sigh.



1st period. I am sitting in the back of the room grading papers while my co-teacher runs a discussion of current events with the students.....

Team Teacher: Lots of good bands come to Albuquerque. Dave Matthews was just here, and the casinos bring in some good bands, big names, too. (Looking at me) Like...
Me: Journey! They were at Sandia Casino recently. That was pretty exciting, especially for --
Alexa: OLD people!

TT: Why is the unemployment rate in New Mexico so high?
Jesse: Because Bush is here!
George: Because Bush is sending jobs overseas!
TT: Um... that might be... a part... um....

TT: Here's a question. Why does everyone hate the U.S. right now?
Jesse: Oooh! I know this one! Because we go to war with EVERYONE! Japan, Iraq, Russia, China, Germany, France....

TT: Sometime I'll try to get a politician to come and speak to the class.
Mallory: You should get Larry Bird to come!
TT: No, he HATES to do that kind of thing. The only way I got him to come and speak at a banquet in Shiprock was by promising to take him trout fishing in the San Juan.
Mallory: Tell him you'll take him fishing again!
Alexa: I know. We'll ALL go fishing with Larry Bird!
Me: That sounds like a cheesy Disney movie. Larry Bird and a bus full of middle schoolers go fishing.

7th period

Jose: Ms. Backes, you look different without your glasses!
MB: Do I look more or less dorky?
Jose: Um....
MB: That was a trick question. No matter how you answer, you'll say I look dorky.
Jose: Oh. Oh! Then.... more!
MB: Thanks, Jose!

MB: A generalization is when you know one person and think that everyone who's similar to them is exactly the same. For example, you know me, and you know that I'm from Wisconsin. So you might think, "Ms. Backes is from Wisconsin, and she's brilliant, so everyone from Wisconsin must be brilliant."
Jose: Um, question? What if we don't think you're brilliant?
MB: What? Okay, get a load of this kid. First he tells me I'm ugly, now he tells me I'm stupid!
Jose: I didn't say ugly! I said dorky!
MB: Sorry. DORKY and stupid.
Class: You said what? What you talkin bout, Jose? You called Ms. Backes stupid?
Rabbit: Man, you're not ugly. If I didn't have a policy of not scamming on my teachers, I'd tell you you look HOT!
Tessa: You just did!

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