Category Archives: Humor

Wow – Where Did the Time Go! Or, Was I Procrastinating?

I meant to take a short break from writing… due to the busy time of the Holidays.  I reread my last post and, apparently, my student’s question about Thanksgiving and Christmas being the same break was a prophesy for me.   After I graded over Thanksgiving, I assigned another essay to be due before Christmas break.  I encouraged students to turn it in early for some extra credit, and five students did.  The rest, well, they validated the reason I do not give weeks to write an essay or create a project.  We work in class for 2-4 days and then it is due two days later.  This gives the kids a chance to turn it in early for some extra credit or ask me for help before the due date.  But I digress…

Of course, I have Romeo and Juliet essays to grade right now, but procrastinating by writing can be more fun.  See, I learn from the students every year.   The essays were due on Friday by 7:30 a.m.  and we did not have school.  The busses would not start due to the extremely cold weather we are experiencing.  Luckily for the students, our district began using Turnitin.com this year.

Little side story here: Eleven years ago several of us asked for the district to purchase a license to use the website.  However, we were told the money would have to come out of the English Department’s budget of $500.  Yes, you guessed it, the license cost more than that.  Evidently, none of the administrators saw a use for checking the originality of science, history, foreign language, and every other subject’s writing assignments.  Thus, while the English department was teaching proper citation of sources and how not to plagiarize, the rest of the school may have been fine with copying from Wikipedia, the bane of all researchers!  Never fear, we asked again around year six, and were told there was no money, which was true.  In fact, the district had to layoff dozens of teachers and two curriculum department administrators. Luckily, this year the Teaching and Learning Department, formally known as the Curriculum Department, has grown beyond pre-cuts days and saw the advantage to using Turnitin.com.  (I guess it makes one sound more intelligent or more powerful if the department has two names.)    

So far, only the English and Language Arts Department is using it, but I am sure the Math, Science, and the rest of the departments will learn how to use it during one of our weekly Professional Development meetings.  

Back to the main topic (Procrastination): My favorite feature of Turnitin.com is the time stamp.  I can have the submission deadline  be midnight or 7:30 a.m. or whenever.  I can then learn when the student turned it in.  I also do not have to deal with using instructional time to have students staple papers together (no one owns staplers), needing to print during class, and listening to excuses of forgotten folders containing essays at home.  Some students still have the excuses, “I couldn’t submit my essay” or “I do not have Internet” or “My printer was out of ink or broken, or “the dog urinated on my laptop.”  Therefore, I have instructed them to (A) email a copy to me or share it with me on Google Docs, (B) bring a typed or hand- written copy to class to give me as they explain the problem, (C)  print from our computer lab before school, or (D) take ownership of YOUR problem and solve it.  The reality is that 92.4%  of the excuses come about because of procrastination.  (I found that statistic on the Internet, so it must be true!)

Although, the company checks originality, it also enables teachers to grade the essays online.  There is an automatic grammar and punctuation checker; however, it is not always correct.  For example, it always indicates the title of the essay and the first sentence is a run-on-sentence.  Teachers are able to create their own comments; thus, no more writing the same comment over and over again.  We merely highlight the mistake and click the comment!  I am finding it an easier way to grade, as long as I have an Internet connection.

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Filed under 21st century skills, Education, Goals, Humor, Learning, Lessons from students, Measuring Student Success, Writing

Holiday Break

I have had great trouble making the time to write.  I am only writing now to “workcrastinate.”  I should be grading essays, but writing is more fun than grading.  Go figure.

I had to make time to share a question a student had for our class last week: “Is Thanksgiving break and Christmas break at the same time this year?”

I was proud of myself for not responding in a sarcastic manner, which is one of my goals this year.  Then, I realized, the student was not asking that strange of a question.  She may be very in tune with a politician’s work schedule.

I can see her getting elected one day.

As for me, I am thankful that this Thanksgiving I will have the opportunity to grade many essays.

 

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Filed under Education, Humor, Lessons from students, Writing

Attack of the Shrimp – Having Fun with Narratives

I have taught the personal narrative and narrative for twenty-six years, and I have used this model story for about twenty years.  This is one of the weeks the students will be working on story telling.  We will revisit this assignment and others like it, since revising is part of the writing process.  Of course, this is the seventh revision of my story. 

Both prompts I am using involve humor and food for three reasons.  First, I want the kids to be able to laugh at themselves a little, before anyone else can laugh at them.  We all make mistakes or have embarrassing moments.  Second, food allows the writer to create sensory details to appeal to smell and taste, as well as sight, sound, and touch.  Third, a similar prompt has appeared on previous super-secret tests; therefore, after 26 years, I seem to be teaching toward the test. 

 Since this blog is about the freshmen experience, it is only fitting that I share from my freshman year as a teacher. 

It was a cool October day during my first year of teaching.  After a long day of “learning them kids real good”, I arrived home a hungry, tired teacher.  I threw my briefcase on the couch of my one bedroom apartment, and I entered my closet-sized kitchen.  I was a man on a mission to fry some shrimp.

frying pan

frying pan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Being a cheap guy first year teacher with a salary of $16,500, I did not own a fryer.  Instead, I used oil in a frying pan.  Did I mention I was hungry?  I decided to put the burner on high, and I put a lid on it.  After all, water boils faster with a lid on, right?

While that was heating up, I relaxed in my brown, beat-up-hand-me-down-duct-taped recliner and watched my favorite

The TMNT logo of the 1987 animated series.

The TMNT logo of the 1987 animated series. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

cartoon of the week: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  I also decided to read the evening newspaper.

Suddenly, I heard a metallic “pop,” like a fork hitting the floor.  I also saw a flash of light as if the paparazzi followed me home and began snapping pictures.  I hate when they do this. Immediately, I saw and smelled smoke.  Of course, I was also blasted out of my seat by the smoke alarm blaring its loud, obnoxious, panic-inducing “BEEEEP!!!”

A residential smoke detector is the most famil...

A residential smoke detector is the most familiar piece of nuclear technology for some people (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I leapt out of my seat, threw the newspaper down, stepped on it, and ran into the kitchen.  The oil was on fire!!  The lid was hanging precariously on the edge with flames shooting five feet into the air.  I thought to myself, “Oh feces!”  I knew I had to act quickly; I was worried about the safety of my neighbors: 80 year-old women.  I began to imagine them falling down the three flights of stairs, bouncing off each other, their walkers, and the steps until reaching the bottom in a crumpled heap of bone, blood, and bodies.

My first action was to knock that panic-inducing smoke alarm off of the ceiling. I simply could not think with the incessant beeping in my ears.  Next, I decided to put the lid back on the pan to smother the fire.  However, I was going to have to reach over the flames to grab the lid.  Not wanting to get burned, I quickly thought of a backup plan: I would put the flaming pan and lid in the sink and douse the oil fire with water.  OK, I forgot that oil and water do not mix.  Luckily for me, I was a bachelor and always kept dirty dishes in the sink.  There just wasn’t room for the burning pan.

Standing at the sink holding a pan that had flames scorching the ceiling, I realized I needed to think a little faster.  Suddenly, a college flashback lit up in my mind.  Phil, a smoker across the hall, threw a lit cigarette into his trash can.  To extinguish it, he carried it into the shower and turned on the water.  Viola!  No more fire.  Yes, I was still forgetting oil and water do not mix.

As I turned the corner from the kitchen to the bathroom, a mere two feet, the coordination that prevents me from playing basketball or even walking and chewing gum at the same time, shined through.   I ran into the wall.  The lid fell to the ground.  Boiling oil landed on my hand and the carpet.  The carpet melted instantly.  My hand turned red and blistered simultaneously.  I exclaimed vulgarities that would have made my mother proud, which is probably why I was rewarded with a nasty, putrid, and worse than a two-day-old-dead-skunk-on-the-side-of-the-road stench, as the smell of my burnt flesh wafted into my nose.

I  jumped over the pan lid with the flames shooting three feet into the air, and I threw the pan, which still held some burning oil, into the bathtub.  I remember thinking to myself when I watched the flames swirl down the drain, “This looks like a volcano toilet!”  Then, I remembered the burning pan lid.  I jumped over the flames again and went to the kitchen sink to get some wet towels.  I wrapped one towel around my hand to try to ease the pain and keep the swelling down.  I used the other towel to grab the pan lid.  For some mysterious reason, I thought the best way to get rid of this burning lid was to walk across the newspaper, crinkle, crinkle, crunch, that was strewn across the living room floor and place it on my wooden balcony.

As I did this, the fire burnt itself out.  I left the balcony door open to allow the smoke and stench of burnt hand and melted carpet escape.  I also checked on my neighbors.  They had heard nothing.  Turns out they were all deaf.  A younger neighbor, about sixty-years-old, took me to the emergency room.  For a month after, I visited the doctor every other day in order to have the dead skin picked off and get a new bandage wrapped around my hand.

Since that fateful October day, I have placed a fire extinguisher under the sink, and I have learned how to use it!

"Learn to use it NOW-Carbon Dioxide Hand ...

“Learn to use it NOW-Carbon Dioxide Hand Fire Extingusher” – NARA – 514853 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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September 23, 2013 · 4:39 pm

Can I Have a Pass to Wendy’s?

The first day of school.  It brings all emotions from fear to trepidation to excitement.  Not just with students or teachers, even with a principal.  For example, last night, our principal posted on Facebook,  “So excited for tomorrow and the first day of school.  Hope I can sleep!  Here’s to a great school year!”  Of course, I facetiously commented, “I probably shouldn’t tell you this but…”

She didn’t bite.  She has been a teacher and an administrator for a while, AND she is a mom.  There. is. NO. fooling. moms.

Speaking of Moms, my wife, who works from home, LOVES the start of school.  She hosts a big lunch time party when I go back to school.  I bet she has another party when the kids begin.  The great thing about the second party is that she never asks me to clean the house, nor does she really talk about it.

Anyway, today was an awesome day!  The students in my classes are awesome.  I look forward to seeing the Honors students written assignments from the summer.

There was one thing today that made me laugh today.  It was a first.  No, it wasn’t a kid in the wrong room, or a freshmen being late because he went to Spanish instead of English.  As immature as I can be, I don’t find this funny. These things happen.

Let me give some background information.  We have Commons.  Many moons ago, before I began teaching, the school had too many students to put all of the kids in study halls.  The administrators had a good idea.  Place seniors, later adding juniors because of increased enrollment, in the lunch room (A.K.A. Commons.)  In other words, upper classroom, because of maturity, can spend a study hall in the lunch room.

Moving forward to today… I am one of the teachers assigned to Commons duty for period 2.  It is not a lunch period; it is 8-8:45 a.m.  This is a fun duty.  I get to walk around and talk to former students.  They are more mature and doing homework.  It is a warm and fuzzy feeling.  Strangely, today provided a memorable moment:

Student: Why doesn’t the breakfast line accept credit cards?

Me: Well, businesses who use credit cards have to pay a fee to the credit card company.  I guess the school district does not want to spend the 1-2% to allow students to use credit cards.  (Why does this kid have a credit card is my first thought.)

Student: Can I have a pass to Wendy’s?

Wendy's

Wendy’s (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Me: (laughing which is a little unprofessional, but I was caught off guard)  I can’t do that.

Student: Why not?

Me: Well, number 1 – I don’t give passes out of Commons.  Number 2 – Wendy’s is not open.  Number 3 – I can not give you permission to leave the building.  Only the principal can.  Yes, I threw the principal under the bus if the young man decides to ask her for a pass to Wendy’s.  Hey, that is why she gets paid the big bucks,  to put up with me, right?

Needless to say, this opening day is number two on the most memorable first days.  Very first day ever, 1988, will always be most memorable.

This is going to be a funny year.

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Journey to Tamarindo

Tamarindo

Tamarindo (Photo credit: supercake)

After our morning fishing trip with Captain Ron, we returned to the house to load up our suitcases.  We began our journey to Tamarindo, a town of about 500 people and 100 dogs.  Tamarindo is located on the Pacific side of the country and is known for great surfing, which is why I chose it.  Our family had conquered all of the waves in Ohio and some moderate ones in Hawaii, so we were ready for the big waves of Costa Rica.

It was two o’clock when we started to drive to Tamarindo.  According to MapQuest the drive would be about four hours.  Knowing how well MapQuest estimated our drive from the airport to Arenal Lake, I had to quote from Star Wars and told my wife, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”

I was correct.

David Prowse as Darth Vader in The Empire Stri...

David Prowse as Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back (1980) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Darth Vader did not catch us, but we experienced something we have seen many times: road construction. However, they do not use orange barrels.  They use a three-foot stick or rod cemented in a coffee can.  The stick has a

A Costa Rican orange barrel

An orange barrel in Costa Rica

yellow ribbon tied to it.  At one section they even used workers.  (I have met a few students who could qualify for the job of being an orange barrel.)

We arrived in Tamarindo about 7:30.  It was dark, since the sunsets occur between five and six p.m.  (One would think we would have learned this lesson the first time.) I reassured the family.   We were going to a town and the rental agency office was programmed into our GPS.

Nonetheless, our GPS did not recognize the name of the condominium and there are no street names or addresses in Costa Rica.  The directions from the closed rental agency were a little vague:  head out-of-town and turn right on the first dirt road.  Consequently, we had trouble finding the rental home.

We did find the police station, though.  In the United States, the best place to get directions is a fire station or police station.  Therefore, I stopped to ask for help.  One problem: language.  Only one younger officer spoke English as well as I spoke and remembered the Spanish I learned in the early 80s when I was in high school.   We were pathetic.  Nonetheless, the officers indicated my map was old and they showed me their 2013 map, the kind of map showing all of the businesses that had paid for an advertisement on the map.  It was not what I would call accurate since it did not have every business.

The senior officer said to follow him; he knew where to go.  I noticed he carried a revolver, like Barney Fife’s.  Plus, he was not wearing a Kevlar vest.  For some reason I worried about him.  My wife and kids were very tired and hungry.

The officer led us right to the condo; however, due to translation problems we were first told that it was not the right place.  The police led us to another place, talked with other people, and decided the original location was correct.  I tried my best to use my twenty-year old high school Spanish to interpret the conversation, but it was not until the security guard did a motion with his hand that resembled a person opening a door that I figured out the problem.  I showed him that I had a key; He looked at it and realized it was a key to a condo in the complex.  Apparently, no one told him I was arriving. Now that we showed him the key, we were in like ghostbusters.

Knowing the police officer quit eating his dinner and worked hard to help us, I offered him a $20 tip, not sure if it was the right thing to do.  My cop friends in America would not take money, but I also knew Costa Rica could be different.  He accepted the money, shook my hand, and our tired, hungry family began to unload the SUV.

When we opened the door, a beautiful, gigantic condo took our breath away.  It was as big as our house!  We couldn’t wait until daylight to see what the view would be like!

English: 2007 Costa Rica aerial photo of Playa...

English: 2007 Costa Rica aerial photo of Playa Tamarindo and River mouth showing the town and beach of Tamarindo and the Pacific Ocean (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What did we learn from this freshman experience?

1. It takes time to get the final result.

2. Communication is very important.

3. Different is not bad.

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Filed under Humor, Vacations

Comparing Freshman Year to Visiting Costa Rica

Soon the first day of high school will arrive.  The fear, anxiety, anticipation, and excitement of doing something “new.” But, school is not really new to kids.  Nonetheless, we know there are new experiences in high school, which can be compared to travelling to another country.  For example, our family of six vacationed in Costa Rica.  We have travelled across the United States and have been to Canada and a few Caribbean Islands via Cruise ships, but those day trips to a foreign country are not really like flying into one and being visitors for a week.

Like a freshman listens to advice from parents, teachers, siblings and friends on how to dress, what classes to take and clubs to join, we sought advice from travel sites and blogs to help us in deciding what to bring, what to wear, and which activities to do and what to see.

What to bring?IMG_0272

Coming from the flatness of Ohio and going to a Central American country, we thought we would pack shorts, t-shirts, sandals, and swim suits.  When in fact, we learned that we would need more.  Our first location was Lake Arenal and the Arenal Volcano.  This mountainous rain forest can be cool in the morning and evening and full of mosquitos.  Lightweight pants, a raincoat or light jacket, and mosquito repellant were necessary.

Freshmen (and their parents) should check school websites for materials lists.  Or at least, send the student to school with paper, pens and pencils, and folders.  Unlike a foreign country, additional supplies can be found easily and economically.

What to wear?

Freshmen will get advice from many people.  They have to determine what is helpful and not.  For instance, some parents, like me, haven’t been a freshman since 1981, thus their advice to wear deck shoes, Levis, and a Polo shirt with the collar up or long skirts and sweaters should be double-checked with friends.  Although my children and wife will disagree, I have noticed some changes in fashion over the last couple of decades, especially on my daughter’s first day of high school, which is another blog entry.  The best advice I ever received was to remember: “You are not dressing for this job.  You are dressing for your next job.”  I have mentioned this on occasion to some students, but they don’t always get it.  I would show them a clip from Pretty Woman, but I know I would get in trouble.

Cover of "Pretty Woman [Blu-ray]"

Cover of Pretty Woman [Blu-ray]

What activities would be best? 

Naturally, it depends on interests, talents, and time.  I was the class treasurer, and today my wife handles the checkbook.  I also dove into swimming for the first time.  Today, parents make it seem that a kid should have been involved in a sport for years, or they won’t make the team.  This is not always true.  My advice: get involved in high school.  You have the rest of your life to work.  (Unless you are like me and never leave.)

Some siblings, especially those who are still in high school, offer advice that is meant to terrify the younger sibling.  For example, some older brothers tell their siblings that freshman have to sit in the corner of the lunchroom and carry the senior’s lunch trays.  Of course, some advice is meant to take advantage of the gullibility of the neophytes.  Upperclassman use to try to sell forged elevator passes, or give inaccurate directions that force the freshman to walk a mile between classes.  Of course, due to excessive standardized testing, the juniors and seniors have lost this creativity, so I have been forced to help the freshmen learn to not trust and be self-reliant.

Therefore parents, give your young adults some supplies but be ready to buy more, learn fashion trends, and encourage involvement.

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What’s in a Name?

Juliet

Juliet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What’s in a name?   Shakespeare explored this question in the famous balcony scene of Romeo and Juliet.  His answer, “that which we call a rose / by any other word would still smell as sweet”  (2.2.43-44).

Apparently, Shakespeare, or Juliet in this case, got it wrong.  The majority of my seventh period class, the ones who use their given names, had trouble with the idea that people could be called by a nickname, variation of their name, or even their middle name.  Yet, during the reading of To Kill A Mockingbird no one questioned Jean Louise Finch’s nickname “Scout” or Jeremy Finch being called “Jem.”

I guess Chris’ middle name may be Topher; Pat’s middle name may be Rick; and Rob’s middle name may be Bert.

My freshman experience today was realizing not all students finish their thought process before speaking up.  Of course, I am guilty of this, too … especially at home.

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Filed under Education, Humor, Lessons from students

It’s Not Always a Bad Day

Today did not start well.  I was blamed for a bad grade.

 

The Question Is What Is the Question?

The Question Is What Is the Question? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

STUDENT: Why did I get a zero?

 

ME: You did not answer the question.  Your answer was off topic.

 

STUDENT: I didn’t know what the question was.

 

ME: It was in your Reader’s Notebook packet.  You were to respond to Ch. 9-11.  See, it says that right here on the rubric.

 

STUDENT: But, it doesn’t have the question there!

 

ME: The question is in the Reader’s Notebook that I gave you.

 

STUDENT: But, Sally stole it from me.

 

ME: You never told me you needed another one.  Plus, I wrote the topic on the board and explained to the class what was being asked.  You were here that day.  Why didn’t you copy it down?  Why didn’t you ask me if you didn’t understand?

 

STUDENT: But, Sally stole it from me.

 

I guess if you run out of excuses or blame, you just repeat yourself.

 

I walk away to get her a new copy of the Reader’s Notebook.  Fortunately, she did well on today’s writing assignment.

 

Later, I learned why one student struggles in class even though she sits right in front of the board where I write the homework assignments:

 

STUDENT: When did you get that large cupboard?

 

ME: It’s been there since the school was built 10 years ago.

 

STUDENT: No Way!  I have got to start paying attention, more.

 

Thinking of grades, I could only nod my head in agreement.

 

Then, she asked if she could go to her engineering class because she just noticed she forgot her books and binders there.

 

I could only nod my head in agreement again.  I wrote her a pass.  After all, I have had these moments, too.

 

However, my day continued to improve.  After writing creatively for a class period, I had this conversation with a student:

 

STUDENT: I think I got carried away.

 

ME: Why? What were you writing about?

 

STUDENT: I wrote 600 words on having a monkey as a pet.  I started with some background scientific information and then went into a story.  I will continue it tomorrow.

 

ME: Excellent!  Good luck with it.

 

And during the last class, a student shared the start of an amusing story that he began in class and continued at home.  So far, his first four pages (he only had to write two) describe a man waking up late and locking himself out of his house when he went to get the morning paper.  I look forward to reading more of it.

 

What kind of day did you have?

 

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Filed under Education, Humor, Learning, Measuring Student Success, Writing

The Third Annual Star Wars Party and Standardized Tests

The second Death Star under construction in Re...

The second Death Star under construction in Return of the Jedi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“May the fourth be with you,” stated my eight-year old son.

“And with you,” I replied.

Thus began our STAR WARS day, May 4th, 2013.

A month ago the invitations were mailed. The RSVPs had been given. At noon, my son’s fellow younglings would arrive for light saber duels, Jedi training, and good v. evil challenges. The Jedi were to depart at 3:15. Not 3:00 o’clock. Not 3:30. Three. fifteen.

This was my son’s third annual STAR WARS party. At the first party, someone thought it was a birthday party and brought him a gift. The mom couldn’t understand that our son would plan a party to celebrate STAR WARS! Really? I have seen Oscar parties, Kentucky Derby parties, and Super Bowl parties. Those parties do not even come close to my son’s STAR WARS parties for fun and excitement.

The best part is he does the planning. We ate Death Star grapes, StarWarsberries, and make your own pizzas. Every little Jedi would be happy.

My son informed me that I was not needed in organizing games or activities outside. In fact I was to do nothing except put the pizzas in the oven and take them out of the oven. Part of me was sad that he was growing up, and he didn’t need me. However, I quickly became happy when I realized I would not have to be hit with light sabers, or have those Ewoks jump all over me. I could relax.

Jar Jar Binks, a Gungan

Jar Jar Binks, a Gungan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of course, at every STAR WARS party we have a kid cry. Even if I remind them that no one ever cried in STAR WARS. This year, we had one accidental hit on the head with a light saber. A little Jar Jar Binks walked into a light saber being tossed in the air. And, we had a couple of boys try to sneak into the basement to play video games:

“It’s burning up outside,” they whined.

“It’s 73 degrees. There is a breeze. Get a glass of water and go play,” I ordered.

They drank some water, petted our little Chewbacas and ran outside to join the fun. There were no further problems or complaints.

The party was an excellent demonstration of skills my son learned in school and at home:

*Writing invitations

*Using time management

*Planning activities

*Leading small groups

*Creating a menu for kids with food allergies

*Compromising so everyone has fun

I can’t wait to see how the Department of Education will create a standardized test to assess these skills. I hope he does well, or he may not be college and career ready.

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Filed under Common Core, Humor, Learning, Measuring Student Success

Why Do Student’s Test Scores Drop? It’s Complicated…

My number one son is in seventh grade, and has had to take an on-line standardized test three times this year to measure his growth in learning.  His September test score had him reading at a college level.  His December test score had him reading at the 11th grade level.  His March test score had him reading at a 9th grade level.

I am Procrastinating by Taking a Procrastinati...

I am Procrastinating by Taking a Procrastination Test: I scored as an Above Average Procrastinator (Photo credit: Tricia Wang 王圣捷)

When I saw this, my mind reeled with thoughts… If he takes another test, will he be reading at grade level?  What if this trend continues?  Will he regress to the point that I have to read Dr. Seuss books to him at bedtime?

First, I called my local congressman.  He always has the answer.  I explained the situation and asked him what he thought.  He replied, “It’s obvious; the teacher is terrible.  She must not be doing her job.  The test scores prove this.”

“I can’t believe it, sir,” I replied.  “I have met her, seen the work she assigns, the passion in her eyes to help students become better.  She can’t be the problem.  Can she?”

“Constituent, she has fooled you into thinking she is doing a good job.  The test scores are the proof!  Your son’s learning was measured.  There is no other answer.  She is making your child less ready for college and career.  Teachers like her are the reason we have the new evaluation system.  Fifty percent of her evaluation will be based on your son and his classmates last test.   Now, thanks for calling.  I have to attend a fundraising dinner and discuss why evaluations based on economic growth for congressmen are not fair.”

“Um, OK.”

I hung up, more confused.  My daughter saw my confused look and asked me what was wrong?  I told her about her brother’s scores.  Of course, she came up with the answer.

“Duh, Dad.  He is 13.  He IS getting dumber!”

“Of course! I forgot what you were like at that age.  It’s not the teacher’s fault.  It is Number One Son’s fault.  He needs to take responsibility and ownership for his learning.  Thank you daughter!”

“No, Dad.  I meant that he takes after you and Mom.  Look at you.  Mom tells us you got good grades in school.  You even have a Master’s Degree.  But, you don’t know how to fix things, can’t find your keys, and think your own jokes are funny.  You get dumber every day! Plus, Mom calls orchards apple-tree farms, forest rangers bear catchers, and recently thought the air conditioner in the car was not working… then she pushed in the AC button.”  Face it, you two are not rocket surgeons!”

“Funny.  Real funny.  Go to your room!”

After all, what else could I say?  I begin to wonder if she is right.  I have been forgetful lately.  I forgot the wife’s birthday, Christmas, and our anniversary.  I couldn’t help Number Two son with his fourth grade math homework.  And, I didn’t win the NCAA March Madness tournament at work.  Number One’s regression is my fault. Do I tell my wife? No way!

I decide to ask Number One.  I show him the scores.  I ask him if he has any idea why the scores have dropped?

He laughs.  I wonder why he thinks that his getting dumber is so funny. 

He explained: “Dad, the first test day was the third week of school.  I was excited.  I was pumped up.  I tried my best to impress my teacher and make you and Mom proud.”

“Well, Number One, I am very proud of those scores.  You were awesome.  However, what happened for the next test?”

“It was in December, Dad. I was distracted with the thoughts of what I was going to buy you for Christmas.”

“Really?  You were thinking of my gift? You are so thoughtful… Wait a minute.  You didn’t get me anything!”

“Just kidding!  I was thinking of all of the gifts I would be getting.”

“OK, Number One, that makes more sense.  That explains test number two.  What about the third test in March?”

“Oh, I didn’t do my algebra homework and needed time to do it.”

“It was an English test.  I don’t understand, son.”

“As soon as I finished my test, I had free time.  I could do my Algebra homework.   You know me, Dad.  I was the kid who would color a picture in first grade in one minute in order to go outside and play.  I skip steps in Algebra because they take too much time, and I get the right answer.  It’s all about efficiency, Dad.  I play soccer the same way.  One touch passes.  No one ever out runs a pass.”

“Number One, let me see if I understand.  You scored low because you rushed through the test.  You had other priorities that day?”

“You know Dad, you aren’t as dumb as you look.  Want to go outside and kick the soccer ball?”

“Why not, Number One.  As long as I am not tested on it.”

No one I know takes standardize tests for a living

No one I know takes standardize tests for a living (Photo credit: Ken Whytock)

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Filed under Education, Humor, Learning, Measuring Student Success, Teacher Evaluations