Monthly Archives: February 2010

A New Generation of Viewers

      Working with a small-group of upper-grade students, I was  directing the task of reading a short piece about the late comedienne, Lucille Ball.

       Much to my surprise, hardly any of the kids had ever seen “I Love Lucy” reruns, although the show has been around for 59 yers!

       On the other hand, they were way too familiar with cable shows that dealt with cheating, teen pregnancy, police violence, and every lyric to countless music videos. But the genre of “comedy” didn’t even register with them. Since they hadn’t heard of her, one of the first questions asked was, “Is she dead?” followed by “Why do we have to know about her?” The onply positive comment was from a girl who said she’d like to have her hair in that carrot-top hue.

      This only shows that the classic sitcom that was the touchstone for many a Baby Boomer has no connection for these kids, and many of their families, as well. Sitting around a TV, laughing over a too-fast moving conveyer belt of chocolate is just so 1970’s……..

Learn It to the Beat!

   When Beyonce’s hit tune “Single Ladies” won Song of the Year at the Grammys a couple of weeks ago, I was especially pleased. That’s because the catchy tune was the inspiration for a widely viewed YouTube video that should be the mantra for students everywhere, especially in our urban schools, where under-achievement is sometimes a given.

     Titled “Scholar Ladies,” it’s an excellent send-up created by middle-schoolers at the Hope Christian School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, happily touting the benefits of scholarship. The line that hooked me was “If you learned it, then you would have got an A in it….”, accompanied by bouncy dance moves.

     With so many kids disheartened at the thought of yet another round of standardized tests, these students show, in an upbeat fashion, how really cool it is to be smart.Since it’s posting, it’s had nearly half a million hits, and still counting.  Take a look, and you’ll be singing it in your head, too!

On the Menu 2

Here are two days’ offerings of actual school lunches served where I’ve worked recent;y. Is this appealing to you?

#1:  Cheese pizza (big rectangles)
         Corn
         Sandwich cookies
         Milk

#2:  Breaded chicken patty
         Hamburger bun
         Chocolate milk

Where’s the salad?

Writing Well–An Afterthought?

  Writing well, and with clarity seems  a skill overlooked  in city junior high grades.

    Realizing that an inordinate amount of  time is given over to anything but instruction–classroom management, paperwork, and other sundry matters, it’s a major challenge  to teach writing skills that will make a difference in academic performance.

    Looking at some 7th and 8th grades posted student work, I was truly disheartened at how ill-prepared many students are when it comes to expressing themselves on paper.

Continue reading

They’re Reading What?

   Being in a number of schools, one particular site has stood out as a “Why’d they do that?” when it comes to selecting class reading texts.

   Assigned to an unruly, inattentive 8th grade class, I always look through the available classroom materials to get familiar with what students deal  with daily.  While they were out of the room for an enrichment session, I took a look around.

      Not agreeing with most of basal readers in my district, [I don’t support a “one reader fits all” method], I came across the series used that marking period. To say the least, I was saddened and appalled at the same time. Continue reading

Profanity as Poetry?

    It’s very sad when students speak profanity as easily as a jump rope rhyme.

     When an 8th grade female student that I had for the day used an unacceptable word in asking a question, she was reprimanded, and an apology demanded.

     She didn’t feel she’d said anything wrong, and asked, “Do I need to apologize? This is how I talk.” Pressed to make restitution to the teacher, she haltingly said, “I’m sorry for my misusable of grammar.”

     I asked if the offending word was “grammar,” to which she replied, “I said ‘misuable’, totally ignoring her error.

     Along with that, she didn’t think the profanity she uttered was all that bad–this is what’s heard throughout a number of  upper grade classes as a matter of course. Moreover, when it comes to speaking with right usage and clarity, too many of the kids don’t think they need to. That’s right–I’ve met way too many young teens who don’t see the connection between success and cuss-word free expression.