15 December 2006

More funny oral reports....

K: I have a question. How many variations have there been on the Art Deco style?
D: MS.BACKES!!! OH MY GOD!! That was actually an intelligent question! You should give him extra credit for that!!!

"FDR was basically a mama's boy. He had a stamp collection."

I: And that's my report on the Empire State building. Any questions.
J: Yeah. Is it still standing today?
J: Ohhhhhh! I didn't realize it was THAT empire state building!

E: And he wrote this song called "Rhapsody in Blue...."
K: Wait, George Foreman wrote MUSIC?
Class: What?
E: George Gershwin!
K: OH! Because I knew about the sandwich grill, but not the music!

14 December 2006

Feliz Hanukkah!

This year, my pet peeve is people who are crabby that they "have" to say "Happy Holidays" instead of merry xmas, as well as the people who take Wal-Mart's reclamation of "Merry Xmas" as some sort of F-You PC-ers! victory. First of all, weird. Second of all, I grew up in Madison, home of the Freedom From Religion people, so the idea of any sort of xmas in schools is totally foreign to me. Third, I grew up a Unitarian Universalist in a town that was 50/50 Catholic/Lutheran, so the winter holidays were always a little rough and weird for me personally, especially in school. And fourth, I just don't see why taking other religions/cultures/beliefs into account is such a huge problem that you have to be such a smug asshole about it.

Anyway... the other morning at a staff meeting, the Spanish teacher got up and waved his arms in his special way, announcing in this very aggressive way: "We're going to be singing Christmas carols in Spanish next week, so if that OFFENDS anyone, we'll make sure not to sing too close to your room! We will be singing CHRISTIAN songs, so let me know if that's a PROBLEM!" (He stared right at me the whole time, even though I've made absolutely no mention of my non-xianity. Anyway.)

The next day, some students told me they had to go to his class next, and they were all moaning and whining like they do. I said, "You guys are learning xmas carols, right?"
"Tell him you want to learn some Hanukkah songs in Spanish," I said. "That would be awesome."
The kids laughed and agreed.

Later that afternoon, I was out on the bus pad when I heard the teacher screaming at me. "THIS IS YOUR DOING! JEWISH SONGS?????? YOU TOLD THEM TO SAY THAT!!!!!"
I shrugged and said mildly, "Hey, if your students want to express appreciation for a diversity of religious beliefs, I think you should support that."

And then I walked away, laughing quietly to myself, while he waved his arms and yelled after me.

Good times.

11 December 2006

Oral Reports! (The funniest time of the year!)

Kaitlynn: During the Great Depression, lots of people lived in Hoovervilles....
Cale: OH! That's where they lived in the Grinch!
Class: ...
Kristy: Oh.....! You mean WHO-VILLES, Cale!


Today a 7th grader gave a very earnest presentation about Franklin Delaware Roosevelt. She seemed so nervous I didn't have the heart to correct her... so I just tried not to giggle too loudly.


Also today, the kid who had researched Babe Ruth and the kid who researched Dorothea Lange discovered that...

Babe: Your guy was born in 1895? MY guy was born in 1895!
Dorothea: No way! What month was your guy born?
Babe: February.
Dorothea: Mine was May! That's really close!
Babe: What day?
Dorothea: The 26th.
Babe: Oh my god, mine's the 6th!!
Dorothea: That's SO WEIRD!!!
Babe: What are the chances???
Dorothea: I know, right? Isn't that SO WEIRD, Ms. Backes??
Class: They probably knew each other!
Class: Maybe they were in love!!!

(I didn't tell them that since we're studying the 1920s and 1930s, there's actually a pretty limited window of time in which any given adult from the 20s and 30s could have been born.....)

06 December 2006


*ring ring*
Me: (whispering) Hello?
Me: (croaking) Hello?
Cam: Did I wake you up?
Me: No... I have laryngitis.
Me: I wasn't going to tell you....
Me: I mean, I was going to tell you later this week, if I didn't get my voice back....


This morning one of my students handed me a broken mug with four pieces of candy in it. "Merry Christmas, Mrs. Backes!"
"Uh, thanks," I said, taking it gingerly so it wouldn't break more. Later, I overheard him telling another kid "I accidentally ate Mrs. Backes's candy! Don't tell her!" (He was sitting like five feet away. I may have laryngitis but I'm not deaf.)

But yeah, Merry Christmas! 'Tis the season of awkward student gifts!


Helene: Miss, what if I can't do research, because my computer is broken, because I got mad and threw it on the floor?
Me: Um... use books?
Helene: (whining) Miss Backes! But books are so ghetto!

(cue "when I was your age, we didn't have a fancy internet to do research" speech...)