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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

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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Exit Tickets or “Did The Kids Learn Anything Today?”

I am positive many of you experience similar dinner conversations:

Parent: Johnny, tell us what you learned in school today.

Johnny: Nothing.

Parent: Surely your eminent English teacher enlightened you about some luminescent literary concept.

Johnny: Stop calling me Shirley!  And why can’t you speak English?

Parent: Johnny, I did not call you Shirley.  I said surely.  Oh, never mind.  What did you learn in English class today?

Johnny: He only talked about some dumb jokes called buns.  But, they weren’t funny.  Speaking of buns, can I have another hamburger?

Parent: Puns.

Johnny: No, I want a bun for my hamburger.  Wow, parents are stupid.

The latest initiative in education is to have students give feedback on what they learned from the day’s lesson. We are calling it Exit Tickets.  In the 20th century I called them quizzes and writing assignments.    Alas, some entertaining Elizabethan bard said it best: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
/ By any other name would smell as sweet”  (Romeo and Juliet 2.2.1-2).

Don’t get me wrong.  Finding out if students are mastering a concept is important.  I have been given many new resources and ideas to help me be a better teacher.  My umbrage comes from the excitement and enthusiasm from curriculum and administration leaders who seem to think this “new” idea is better than sliced bread.

Last week I had students completing vocabulary exercises in small groups of their own choosing.  The exercises were using context clues to complete sentences, figuring out synonyms and antonyms, and analogies.   My exit ticket questions were:

  • How did working in small groups help you learn and understand the vocabulary words?
  • How confident do you feel for the vocabulary quiz on Monday?
  • How long do you plan to study for the quiz?
  • How will you study?

Here are some of the responses to the first question:

  • Working in groups helped me to expand ideas and see a different point of view.  (Looks like a future politician’s response, doesn’t it?)
  • The group helped explain to me my answers.  (Future one-party voter.)
  • It helped me because I got to see what other people thought the answer was and sometimes they were right.  (Not quite husband material.  Once married, he will realize the other person is always right.)
  • Two brains are better than one.  When you work with others, you can think up answers easier.  (Does this mean the other person thinks of the correct answer?)
  • Is it really working together if you do the work and everyone copies from you?  (No, but the lazy kids all wrote that they liked working in a group.)
  • I don’t think this was helpful.  I felt that we got off task too easily, and one person would just shout out the answer before we got to do it first.  (Interesting, the rest of his group liked the competitiveness of yelling out the answer first.)
  • It was more fun to work with a group. (What?  Fun in school?)
  • It helped me hear how other people think of the words and how they remember the words.  (Excellent – the sharing of mnemonic devices.)
  • I prefer not to work in groups because I feel it holds me back from doing my best.  (Didn’t Thomas Jefferson take a five-person committee’s outline and write the first draft of the Declaration of Independencepretty much on his own?)

    Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the ...

    Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the Declaration (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • If I am working with friends, I don’t accomplish much; however, if I am working with non-friends I accomplish the work.
  • I do not think this was helpful because I like to be able to think for myself.  (Guess who will love Animal Farm when we read it?)

Most responses to the actual studying for the quiz were the same: review the words and definitions with a parent or friend on Sunday evening for 30 minutes or an hour. However, a few were honest: look the words over during lunch.  My favorite response was from the young lady who said she would use a hand puppet to study the words.

To be honest, I knew most of these answers prior to the exit ticket.  I walked around the room and observed the students.  I saw the kids who preferred to work alone.  I saw the kids who were having a blast, yet were off task.  I confiscated the Algebra homework being copied.  I noticed the group of boys competing to figure out the correct answer.  I saw the group relying on one kid to do all of the work.  I heard the two girls creating songs to remember the words.

Don’t get me wrong.  The exit ticket can be helpful.  After all, I would have never learned about the puppets without it.  However, observation is just as important.

What did I learn?  The next time, I am going to assign groups.  A special education teacher I work closely with shared an idea how to create study buddies.  I love working with special-education teachers.  They are way smarter than I am.  I guess that is why they are “Special.”  I am only a teacher: nothing special here.  Perhaps one day I can get a cool adjective added to my title like “Super Sweet Teacher” or “Puntastic Teacher.”

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Things that make you wonder…

Have you ever wondered?  Of course you have.  Perhaps you wonder how the deer know to only cross at those yellow signs on the road.  Perhaps you wonder why black olives are packaged in cans and green olives are packaged in jars.  Or, perhaps you wonder how everyone seemed to know Lassie was barking because Timmy was in trouble.

I enjoy wondering.  My love for reading has allowed me to wonder what it would have been like in a different time and place.  My desire to visit new places all of the time has encouraged me to wonder what it would be like to live in that location.  And, I wonder why people act the way they do.

People’s actions are like character’s actions in a story.  When I teach literature, I focus on why characters behave the way they do.  Sometimes we can explain it; sometimes we cannot.  For example, it is difficult to explain why the jury found Tom Robinson guilty in To Kill A Mockingbird.

However, it is easy to explain why Heck Tate said “Bob Ewell fell on his knife” at the end.

Recently I have been presented with some strange behavior by students that have made me wonder.  Perhaps one of you can explain these teenager’s logic.

1. I went into the boys rest room to wash my hands and noticed someone sitting on the floor in the stall.  Fearing he was regurgitating his math lesson or the school lunch, I asked him if he was ok.  He came out of the stall and tried to lie.  He finally confessed to be cutting his class, which was in the media center.  Since when did a boys bathroom floor, where aiming to hit the toilet is not a priority, become a “cooler” place to be than the library?  In 23 years I have never seen this way to cut a class.

Stainless Steel Stalls

2. I was walking down the hallway to the lunch room.  I never get school food, for I am trying to live a long life.  However, today I did not pack my lunch.  I stopped a young man who was breaking our dress code and asked him, “what class are you in right now?”   He responded, “I’m going to get some food at the grab and go line.”   I said that I wondered when the grab and go food line became a class.  So, I asked him again and we proceeded to his class. He did not pass go, collect $200 or buy any snacks.  I wonder why someone tries so hard to attract attention to himself then complains about getting in trouble.  When you scream, people tend to notice.  

Tomorrow we have outlines due.  I wonder what creative excuses I will encounter.  I am certain that I will get five students saying “I didn’t understand the assignment” even though we spent two class periods working on it.  I will probably hear three students tell me “I forgot it at home or in the car.”  Of course, one or two students will tell me that they were typing it and left it on the printer.  I do wonder if I will get “my brother got mad at me and lit it on fire, again.”

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How to Be the Best in Your Freshman Year

We are almost half way through the freshman year.  It seemed like just yesterday when students arrived with high hopes and dreams, and a little apprehension. As the weeks progressed, many kids fell into their old study habits.   The old habits work for some; and a few need to change their habits.  In a few more weeks it will be exam time,  and exams are something new to many of the kids. Science teachers will give review packets full of the terms and information they studied all semester.  Math teachers will give hundreds times hundreds of math problems.  History teachers will hand out packets full of questions about who killed whom or what happened in ancient times (when the teacher was a kid).   I will hand out a half sheet of paper that informs kids to use handouts I have already given them or resources they can find on the World Wide Web, which I invented.  (Just reviewing fiction there.)

Besides preparing for exams I have also recognized 5 ways for freshman to succeed:

1. Don’t let fear rule.  It is difficult being a freshman.   You are the new kid, going through changes that can be confusing.  Facing the fear and gaining confidence is the #1 success driver.  Every one of the hundreds of classes I have taught has had a student who started out shy and unsure.  Then, he or she begins to participate in the small groups, gains confidence when others ask for help, and then adds to the whole class discussion.  Too often we think we have to be ready to present an idea to a large group.  Instead, talk to one or two people.  Speak up in a small group assignment.  Others do want to listen.  I remember Janie.  She would was quiet during our first class discussion, but once she was in a group of 4-5 people, she was a born leader.  She was in her comfort zone.  After gaining confidence, she joined Mock Trial and performed the role of attorney in front of many people.

2. Network.  Make friends with successful students.   Schools don’t like to label kids so they give reading groups nondescript names like blue group, red group, etc.  However, the kids know who the better readers are.  Being nice to someone who is better in math or science or English can help a person learn new ways to study.  I remember Jared and Nick, who did not know each other.  They were paired together for a Study Buddy activity.  They became close friends, met others, and their grades began to improve because they enlarged their network and added to their support system.

3. Smile and say hi to people.  Smiling is contagious.  Too many kids walk through the halls or sit in classrooms and feel lonely.  I know from personal experience.  When I was a student, I waited for others to say hi to me first.  At a class reunion a classmate told me she thought I was stuck-up.  I did not think about how others saw me.  I expected others to make me smile.  I realized the happiness comes from making someone else smile.  Now, I say “Hi” to as many students as I can.  Sadly, some kids may go through the whole day without someone talking with them, even for a moment.  The most successful students I see are the ones who smile and say hello to others.

4. Leave  your options open.  Explore topics in classes.  Take time to learn more on your own.  I remember Jenny who enjoyed acting out scenes from Romeo and Juliet in class.  The next year she went out for the school play and got a major part.  Another student, who loved art class, noticed all of the art work depicting scenes from mythology.  He started researching more and more about how different artists in different time periods depicted the gods.  Now, his goal is to work in an art museum.

5. Know what is expected.   Pay attention to what the class wants.  Of course, I am referring to behavior and assignment expectations the teacher has.  However, the others in the room have expectations.  To truly be successful with others, you have to be cognizant of their expectations.  Being the class clown may get you laughs, but it won’t get you classmates who want to work with you, unless, of course, the grade is based on laughs.  The other morning, I had the class answer a question about our reading and present it to the class.  One group had the class clown, a student who did not do the reading in it, and a student who wanted to get a good grade.  The concientious student asked to move groups and I allowed it.  I felt the clown and slacker earned the right to flounder together, with the clown having to do all of the work.  The funny thing is the next day the clown made sure he had his work completed and asked to be in different group.  Will he continue to improve and take his work more seriously?  I hope he does and continues to be a clown because he is funny.  We may be watching on the Tonight Show or watching his TV show one day.

 

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How to Tell When You Are Not Teaching Well

I have written about some of my success stories, but there are failures sometimes.  I guess that is why we call it learning.  For the last month I have been teaching Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel To Kill A Mockingbird, my favorite novel of all time.  I even use it as a guide as I face the trials of raising children.  I often ask myself, “What would Atticus do?”  My passion never dies for this American classic.  The novel allows the class to discuss growing up, prejudice, family dynamics, and stereotypes.   Basically, I try to instill in the kids that different is not bad.  As Atticus points out, “you never really understand a person until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

With old-style gossip in the hall or lunchroom and the use of technology to be mean and bully, the themes of the book are  relevant to teenagers.  As our reading progressed, I had students write answers to response questions, discuss events and the themes in small groups and Socratic Seminars,  rewrite scenes from two characters’ perspectives, and had shown a documentary on the Scottsboro Boys’ Trial.  My goal was to have them climb into a character’s skin and walk around in it: to see how other people think.

Today we were going to be discussing how Scout is doesn’t understand her teacher’s disapproval of Hitler and his persecution of Jews while Maycomb and the United States were persecuting African-Americans.  Scout points out the hypocrisy for the readers.  Using a teachable moment, I ask the students what the historical significance of tomorrow is.  One student realizes it is the anniversary of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor.  One student, ignoring the last month’s lessons, blurts out, “We should nuke Japan every year for that.”  So much for ending stereotyping and prejudice with all freshman.

Not one to give up easily, I began teachable moment number #2.  I told the students about an optometrist I know, a United States Citizen of Japanese descent.  His parents had to sell their restaurant for a dollar, pack one suitcase, report to a train station, and spend the next several years in an internment camp.  Yes, persecution seems to have existed for many years.

As the young man began to realize he may have engaged his mouth prior to starting his brain, I thanked him for playing along and helping me demonstrate how prejudice has occurred throughout our country’s history.  Now, I hope he has finally learned about prejudice and trying to see things from another’s perspective.

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Lessons for Marriage and Parenting from Star Wars

A few months ago my children found my high school yearbooks.  After seeing my pictures, they decided I was a nerd.  However, I was never a nerd, nor am I one now.  Honest.  In fact, for a few months in 1995 I was even suave and debonair enough to fool my future wife.  Along this journey that started in a galaxy far, far way, I have learned a few things:

1. When picking up women, make sure there is little competition.  Han Solo won Princess Leia’s heart.  The only competition on board the Millennium Falcon an Old Jedi, a twin brother, a walking giant hairball, an annoying droid, and a rolling vacuum.  When I met my wife, I was the only single guy at the Euchre Party.  I was her Han Solo rescuing her from the Death Star.

2. Jedi mind-tricks work.  I can never seem to find the droids I am looking for.  No matter what I may be thinking, my wife always has a way of making me agree with her.

3. When you think: “I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” you are probably right.  I have never been in a dire predicament like being in a garbage masher or giant slug.  However, I have been too close to crying child who either blows out his diaper or vomits all over me, the dog, and the carpet.

4. Wookies and some people are poor losers.  I have yet to lose an argument with my wife because I am a poor loser.   Unfortunately, this characteristic has been inherited by my youngest son.  He is a sore loser when I crush him in War, Go Fish, Sorry, and every other game.

5.If one of your family members disappears, expect a trap.   In Cloud City, C3PO knew Darth Vader and his storm troopers were there but he disappeared before he could warn anyone.  When my daughter was an infant, my wife would disappear.  Immediately the little baby would scream and cry until Mommy returned.

4. Yoda is right: “Do or do not.  There is no try.”  Luke doesn’t believe he can lift his fighter out of the swamp.  He is right.  You have to believe to succeed.  We have learned to make the kids do the chore right.  They get to keep doing it until it is done correctly.

5. Do not negotiate with bad guys and children.  While Leia is held prisoner on the Death Star, Moff Tarkin and Darth Vader ask her where the secret rebel is.  She reveals the location to save the planet.  They blow it up anyway.  Negotiating with children works the same way.   You give them a cookie and then they want a glass of milk.

Yes, Star Wars has helped many of us “cool” people face what life has to offer.  The Force is with us!

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Three Steps to a Better Vocabulary and a New Job

Times are tough.  Everyone is competing for jobs.  Some folks have had to take less-than-desirable-jobs in order to pay the bills.  Do not have trepidation or anxiety.  There is a way to get a better job!  Increase your vocabulary!  Here are three easy steps to accomplish this:

1. Get motivated!  You have to want to communicate effectively.  We learned new words when we were children in order for our parents to understand our whining better.  Then, most of us grew up and became lazy.  I guess most folks are content with being called “nice.”  What spouse would like to share the same adjective as a necktie, shirt, or haircut?

2. Read!  And take the time to look up unknown words!  I loved to read Sports Illustrated when I was a kid.  Rick Reilly was my favorite contributing writer.  I had to use a dictionary when I read his articles to understand his humor.

3. Use a new word correctly in a sentence three times during the day.  For example, tell your boss, “But Mr. Scrooge, it’s Christmas Eve, only an impudent, malicious, old man would make us work.”  Later, when he tells the Salvation Army, “Bah!  Humbug,” remind him, “Sir, you are an uncaring, impudent excuse for a human being.”  And when it is finally time to go home to the family, yell at him, “Take this job and shove it you impudent man without a soul!  I ain’t working here no more!”

I can guarantee that finding the right motivation, reading more, and using new words every day will increase your vocabulary and lead to a new job!

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Where to Begin?

” I don’t know where to start,” Joe, the master procrastinator in my first period class, sighs.  Thus, my day begins.

Actually, it started many days ago when I came up with the idea for this short writing assignment.  Students were given a chapter of To Kill A Mockingbird to read, and they would rewrite this part of the story from another character’s point of view.  Students were to retell the major points from one of the witnesses in the trial of Tom Robinson.

My first response to Joe is, “Start with the details of the reading selection.  Make a list of what you know.  Next, ask yourself what thoughts would this character have?  Then, free write for five minutes.  After the brainstorming, organize your thoughts and ideas.  Divide the process into chunks or small steps, ignore the others in the class, focus on your thoughts, take time to review and revise, and you will end with a good final product.”

Alas, if only I could help myself as easily, as I have had trouble writing lately.  To help me get started, I researched procrastination.  I found that about 20% of us procrastinate and there are over 600 published books on the subject.  Of course, I haven’t made the time to read any of them.  I just skimmed articles and blogs.

I did learn a few things; my problems are described in any psychology 101 class:

  1. I am afraid of failing, so I wait and use the excuse, “I would have done a better job, but I did not have enough time.”  (Notice, I do not take responsibility on how I managed or mismanaged my time.)
  2. I do not develop an achievable goal for each day.  Instead I say, “ Today, I am going to write a book.”  Instead, I should say, “Today I am going to write for 15 minutes.   A person can do any task for 15 minutes.  Fifteen minutes is plausible, manageable, and doable.  I can always write for longer.  I need to break the larger goal into smaller goals.
  3. I don’t pay myself first.  Well, I do when it comes to my paycheck.  I put money aside for retirement, rainy days, and vacations.  However, I do not always place my tasks before the tasks of others.  I could use to be a little more selfish, at least for 15 or more minutes a day.  One way I can do this is to schedule my time to write and to do it when I most creative, which is in the morning or afternoon.  I like to revise my work in the evening.

Wow!  I did it.  A little research or background knowledge, a little creativity, and a short list!  I am back on track!

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There is an old adage: The apple does not fall far from the tree.  When a parent comes in for a conference or when we talk on the phone, I can see how true this statement is.  For example, I had a parent arrive late for a conference to discuss the child’s frequent tardiness to class.  During another conference, I was subjugated to excuses why work was not completed; many were similar to the ones the teenager gave me in class.  I am not heartless and understand that feces occurs once or twice a year, and these occurrences prevent an assignment from being completed on time.  However, some folks make it a habit to create the excuse prior to doing the work.

I could sit on my throne, look upon all students and their parents and judge their shortcomings, for I am perfect.  Just ask my wife.  On second thought, don’t do that.

The truth is I watched one of my little  apples waste away his evening last night, and I never realized I was doing something similar.  It was a free night for our family except for the wife; she had to work.  However, the kids were free:  no swim practice, no soccer training, no basketball practice, and no Tae Kwon Do.

There was a catch though.  My daughter, who has missed school due to illness, had to complete her assignments.   My oldest son, who is having a birthday party soon, had to clean the basement.  His younger brothers were going to help him and the chore would take about 30 minutes.

‘We will start at 4:30, Dad” promised the apples.

At 4:35, I asked, “What time is it?”

“It is 4:35!” yelled my first grader.

“Hey Apples,  it’s time to clean” I reminded them.  With a few grumbles, the trio went to the basement to pick up toys.  Within two minutes, the younger two came upstairs.  The birthday boy decided it would be fun to throw toys at them.  When confronted with this poor behavior choice, the oldest reminded me, “Dad, you always tell us to try to make a chore into a game I was just having fun.”

“Nice try” I tell him.  “Only one-third was having fun.  Now two-thirds are not going to help you clean.  Way to increase your fun, son.”

Instead of writing from 4:40 until 8:00 like I should have done, I watched my son avoid cleaning the basement.  I wish I could blame him for preventing me from writing, but he was not the cause.  I chose to empty the dishwasher, run to the post office and the grocery store for milk … again, read my emails, go on Facebook, clean up the patio from yesterday’s storm, fix the grill, and do anything to put off writing.  I was waiting for a topic to hit me, like an apple falling on my head.

Fortunately for the soon-to-be-twelve-year-old, he realized if he was nice to his siblings, they would help him.  The basement was clean by 8:20, a new record!  The boys realized Together Everyone Achieves More.  I sure wish I had someone to help me brainstorm a topic or even write for me.  The only family member willing to hang out with me at this point was one of our dogs, Feces.

I sat down and read other blogs and websites for ideas on education or business ideas.  I found a few, and started to write.  However, the words did not flow from my brain to my fingers with great velocity.  In fact, they dripped like a leaky faucet and then disappeared down the drain.  At 11 p.m., I called it a night.  I had several ideas but no finished product.

When I awoke at 5:30 a.m. feeling semi-refreshed, I stumbled into the shower.  Today’s idea splashed into my face, and I  had to laugh at the irony of last night.  My son is just like me.   When we have too much time on our hands, we are our own worst enemies.

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