Today has been an interesting and entertaining day. About a week ago, the students were discussing their grade point averages and class ranks. From what I overheard, over half of one of my classes must be in the bottom 10% of the class. Their cavalier and insouciant attitudes troubled me. However, today two of the hard-working students decided to compete for the highest grade in the class. This made my day. And, it may be premature, but perhaps the competitiveness is spreading.
For today’s activities, I had their class help each other revise narratives. I gave them a handout that would force the students to really edit each other’s stories. They were highlighting linking verbs and coordinating conjunctions and making suggestions for using action verbs and other ways to write it. They were copying examples of figurative language that they thought were awesome. In addition, they were looking for general statements that could be written with more details. (For example, changing “it was cold” to “Freezing, I wrapped myself in a blanket, sat by the fire, and read a good book.”) Positive feedback from peers was flowing like a swollen river in the Rocky Mountains. They were trying to out write each other. These kids who can be distracted by a dust mite were on task 90% of the time. I don’t know about you, but committees I am on do not stay on task for 90% of the time. I am able to lead the others astray more than 10% of the time.
My other classes were working on typing their narratives. Listening to them discuss the changes they were making captivated me. However, one odd thing happened during the last class. Arnie was on his laptop and asked me if a tortoise is a reptile or an amphibian. In my most caring, yet sarcastic, manner, I responded, “I have no idea. Perhaps you could “Google” it when you get home.”
“Well, I guess could do that right now,” he replied.
“Oh, yeah!” I exclaimed, “Now, why didn’t I think of that?” By the way, the tortoise is a reptile.
Well, Arnie’s quick research made me think of the # symbol used in Twitter. The kids call it a hashtag, and no one could tell me about its purpose. So, I took a minute and researched it during class. The student’s reactions by my actions were priceless.
First, I was chastised for my ignorance:
“How could you not know what a hashtag is?”
“You actually looked it up?”
“Who does that?”
I am glad I did not chide them for not knowing how to use commas properly, not knowing how to spell abyss, languish and immediately, or not knowing how to copy, cut, and paste parts of the story on their word document. Or, worse, rebuke them for not knowing the difference between they’re, their, and there.
Secondly, they were incredulous that I used the computer to research it. Funny, these are the same kids who used the computer to research mythologies from around the world. Just because they have friends who may have taught them about Twitter doesn’t mean I do. I will leave the previous sentence written like it is. You can decide if I don’t have friends or if I don’t have friends who know about Twitter… 🙂
Of course, for most teachers, these events are routine. Some students enjoy an activity or lesson. And, some students enjoy laughing at an old person’s ignorance of technology or modern slang. Ok, most kids enjoy the latter.
I hope you had a great day doing what you love.