Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Little Lesson on Surface Tension

My first year of teaching high school chemistry was interesting to say the least. Kids do say the darndest things, but when it's 17 year olds it puts a whole new spin on things. They understand what words mean but sometimes they still don't understand what two words mean when put together.

By the second semester of the school year, I think that teachers have established a pretty good relationship with their kids. You know all their names, you know who their friends are, you know who goes to the parking lot after school for band practice.....or maybe not band practice.

Enter, my student George and the lesson on water. I don't have to mention this, but water is a pretty amazing little collection of molecules. Water is composed of hydrogen bonds, which are arguably some of the strongest intermolecular bonds on the planet. :)

So I'm describing hydrogen bonding, and asking the kids what happens when water drops onto a flat surface. Correctly they respond, saying that water forms a dome-like structure, further reinforcing proof that water holds itself together pretty decently. So then I ask the kids, "Well, what does surface tension mean to you?"

Innocently, George, a very intelligent and vocal student, replies, "Miss, is that like when a girl and a guy are in a room together and they like each other, but neither one of them wants to say anything, so they just stand there....." and he begins to trail off, because at this point all widened eyes are on him, as well as mine.

With a large grin and stifled laugh I answer back...."Oh George, not sexual tension. Surface tension." In my 2.5 years of teaching, I've never seen a face get redder than that. :)

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A poop story...

This story is about butts and poop. IF you don't think that stories with butts and poop in them are funny, stop reading.

In Pre-K land, I had a little boy who was a regular visitor to the potty right after nap. Like clockwork. I even knew that I'd let nap run a little late if my sweet bathroom buddy woke up to go.

Usually he just went in and came out and all was done in a matter of minutes.

One day he goes in....and I wait....and wait....and let the others who need to "go" use the poty next door... and wait....and wait... I didn't want to interrupt... I knew he was ok from the one-sided conversation that was going on.

At the 10 minute mark I decided that enough is enough.

"Sweet Love? How ya doin in there?"


"Well, tell me what's wrong...."

"Um... Miss G? Mybuttwon'tletmypoopcomeout."

"Your.... what?"

"My BUTT... won't LET... my POOOOOOOP.... come OUT."

oh my.

"Well... can you tell you butt you'll just try again later?"

"Yeah... that works."

SO glad we can all get along.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Are your eyes broken?

Back in the days of Pre-K land, I used to try to emphasize my "nice-mean voice" with my "I-really-mean-business-face". (Ok, so I still do that in pre-teen-land...) You know the face I mean. Chin down turned, eyebrows up, eyes open wide... And in Pre-K land I often found myself balancing on my toes, trying not to fall over, while maintaining eye contact with an almost-five-year-old while simultaneously making mean face.

My darling Spenny was a frequent recipient of mean face. Spenny wasn't a bad kid - but mean face was just super effective on him. It would stop him in his tracks, he'd literally drop what he was working on, and get a scared-puppy-in-the-headlights look.

One day, I'd say in March or so, after receiving more mean faces that I could ever begin to count, I noticed that sweet Spenny wasn't so responsive.

Time to get out mean voice!

I squat down, balance, make eye contact, and as I'm trying to maintain mean face and choose my words carefully, I notice Spen looking deep into my face.

He looks concerned. He looks worried.

GOOD! This will be short and sweet. (Mind you, NOTHING is ever short and sweet in Pre-K land!)

I open my mouth to ask Spen if he'd like to share something with me and before I get a single syllable - before I even can take a breath - he puts his sweet, almost-five-hand on my cheek and says in the most sincere voice I've ever heard:

"Miss G? Are your eyes broken? Did I break your eyes?"

Oh, out of the mouths of babies. I switched from the mean eyes to the mean-eyebrows after that day!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

On the subject of tee shirts...

Classroom discussion on tee shirts, circa 2007 -
Hector: "Miss, I hate it when girls wear shirts that say the word PINK on them but the shirt is actually orange or blue!"
Chemissy: "Well, does what a shirt says have anything to do with who's wearing it? Harlan, what does your shirt say?"
Harlan: "Dirty ghetto kids."
In this case, Harlan's tee shirt was a bit fitting, and the class had a good laugh.

Classroom discussion on tee shirts, Friday, August 29th....
A bit of background - the science department at my high school decided that it would be "cute" to wear matching tee shirts to school on the very first Friday of the new year. I have been trying to establish rapport with my kids, trying to come across as tough, yet cool, at the very same time.

Tell me how easy that is when on Friday, a day to wear spirit shirts and jeans and kick back a bit and get comfy for the day, you are made to wear a shirt that not only has the periodic table on the front, but the formula for momentum on the back. Chemistry party in the front, physics business on the back. Some sort of sick and twisted dorky one hundred percent cotton black science mullet. Maybe more like ten percent cotton, ninety percent humiliation. Can my kids see through it? I could only hope.

I trudge into school on Friday, clutching a white jacket and an emergency back up shirt in my hand. For now, the jacket is all that's keeping me from ultimate high school student embarrassment. Usually, the A/C is on so heavily in my school that it's December year round.
NOT today - today the A/C is broken and our rooms are in the high 80s. The jacket comes off, and I am vulnerable to 70 teenagers whose definition of cool has never involved a screen printed formula chart.
I pretend that I'm okay until third period.....
Me: "Okay kiddos, let's pass in your lab contracts...."
Trendy Girl: "Miss, did they make you wear that shirt today?"
Me (eyes wide): "Yes!!! How did you guys know?"
Trendy Girl 2: "We were talking, and we think that you wouldn't wear something that nerdy. You are too cool for that shirt!"
Me (smiling HUGE): "You guys are great - this is the first, and the last time, you will ever see this shirt...."
Class giggles.

I am redeemed.

Did I mention that my neighbor science teacher got a tattoo?

Ever seen the chemical structure for caffeine permanently inked into some one's forearm? There's a type of tee shirt that doesn't come off.

Bring on the second week of school! :)


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Exit Tickets

I have my kids write me and "Exit Ticket" in their journals before leaving at the end of the day... it can be about anything that happened that day, something they learned, something they liked or didn't like, a note to me... whatever - just SOMETHING.

On Friday I rushed through reading them so that I could get out of dodge and start my long weekend, too. In the very last journal, from one of my most outspoken kiddos:

"Whoever decided that the kids and the teachers needed a three day weekend after the first week of school was really smart. Actually I think they were a genius."

Ditto that.

Happy Labor Day Weekend!!!!

-Mrs. G

Thursday, August 28, 2008

My Name is NOT Ms.

One of my ultimate pet peeves is to be called "Ms."... It's really important to me that my kids address me as Mrs. LastName and understand WHY its so important to me. Some teachers in my school argue that its better than not being called anything or that its a sign of respect. I really don't like it and tell my kiddos that its like me calling them "boy" or "girl". They get it.

Anyway - the point of this post is that over the past week my class has officially decided (umprompted, I might add) to call me "Mrs. G" and has dubbed our class the "G-Unit".

I love my little 5th grade gangstas.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

H is for Jalapenos

Back in college I tutored (actually, all of the site’s contributors did!) for a program helping struggling readers and English Language Learners. One of the precious little boys was in second grade and had only been in the US for six weeks when we met.

During some our first tutoring sessions we spent a lot of time going over the English alphabet and the sounds the letter make (the letter “sound” is written as the letter in “slashes”… i.e. J says /j/) .

A says /a/, around, astronaut. B says /b/… bear, butter (montequilla!? … yes… montequilla!), bunny… and on through the alphabet.

About the second or third time through with me modeling the sounds I asked my sweet friend to think of words he had learned and say them when we got to the right letter. I would say one first and then he would say his. A, /a/, apple… alphabet (YAY!). B, /b/, baby… book (hurrah!)… we got to H… /h/ is a tricky sound to “get” for a Spanish speaker learning English (at least in my experience it is!).

I said H, /h/… homework. A long pause, an uncomfortable look, and just as I am about to suggest a word and move, on my creative tutee gets a sly look and a huge grin and says at the top of his lungs, “H! /h/! JALAPENO!!!!” Oh my, did we have a laugh at that. He KNEW that jalapeno didn’t start with H but he sure did get that it started with the same sound that H makes!

I can never go to type or write “jalapeno” without first writing out Halapeno.

Loving every moment,

Mrs. G