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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Is there anbody out there?

Hey all,
Feel free to post comments on my blog! You don't even have to be a member of blogspot, just choose the anonymous option! Just post a witty signature line at the bottom of your post. Something like Pontificating in Pontiac or Adroit in Detroit.
Let's get some audience participation going here! Let me toss out an icebreaker.

Which cartoon character would you most like to see tossed into a vat of White-Out?

For me, it's a 3-way tie between Scrappy Doo and the Wonder Twins. Those two couldn't get themselves out of a paper sack if Gleek wasn't around. As for Scrappy, they should have taken the S off of his name long ago.

Fond memories of hoops gone by

We've started an "enrichment" program at the school on Tuesdays. (Sounds like something to do with wheat and associated by-products, right?) From 3:15-4:30, most of the teachers stay and run some sort of group that kids can join and participate in. Some teachers run a soccer club, some do cheerleading, some do puzzles and legos, some do chess. I wanted to do a "Texas Two-Card Hold 'Em" club, but they wouldn't let me. I don't know why not, it would reinforce mathematical concepts of probability and multiplication. But at any rate, I run the basketball club for 3rd graders.
So I was out there playing "Knock-out" and other fun basketball games from my youth. It takes a while to get concepts through to these kids, so I'm holding off on teaching them the three-man weave. That's part of the advanced club. But as I was playing with the kids, it made me think back to some of my fond basketball memories. Going winless in my senior year of high school was not one of them. But one of my brother's 8th grade games IS up there as a high point.
My dad was the coach of my brother's team, and I helped out as an assistant coach. This particular game was against the dreaded arch-rival, so we enacted Operation: Super Spazz. The Saturday morning of the game, I dressed as one of the team. I was a senior in high school, so I was already at full-size -- 6'4", 180 lbs -- and I stood out monstrously from the other kids out on the court. In addition to my size advantage, I had meticulously cultivated a wild, animalistic appearance. I wore a pair of racquetball-style goggles (think Kareem Abdul-Jabar, circa mid-80s), and the most severe case of bedhead this side of Jimmy Fallon.
During pre-game warmups, I participated in the layup lines, each time running full speed at the basket and heaving the ball at the backboard as hard as possible. I was going for maximum rebound distance, hoping to have to chase the ball past halfcourt into the opposing ranks. With each heave, I let out a primal yell, like the Goonies' Sloth trying to free himself from imprisonment. I think at one point, I even picked up one of my brother's teammates and shook him around.
Once the game started, I sat on the bench, of course. But the psychological impact was visible. The other point guard frequently stole glances over at our bench, and they just played scared the entire game. Years later, my brother attended the same high school as a couple of the players from that team, and one of them confided in him that he had almost wet his pants that day.
Making memories. That's what I'm all about.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Science is a GAS

Well, as I expected, I got some interesting responses in terms of our three states of matter. Nobody expressed any kind of flatulence, though one boy did list a bunch of solid foods under "gas" that would give anyone gas. Baked beans, baked rice, baked everything.
Two kids put ketchup on their lists of liquids, so as you might expect from me, I immediately gave them both a grade of 500. And I don't want to hear from any engineering geeks out there about thixotropic solids and whatnot; from a 3rd grader, I will accept ketchup as a liquid.
The most entertaining entry came from a little girl whose list of liquids revealed a lot about her home life. First there was Bud Light. Then came Clamato. So naturally, the list ended with Pepto-Bismal.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Rain (and other liquids) is beautiful

Random thought of the day: Is it just me, or do the opening notes of the ubiquitous (and quite annoying) James Blunt song, "You're Beautiful" match up with the opening notes of the end theme song for the old Incredible Hulk TV show? Slow down the Blunt notes to about a quarter of the current speed, and you have the haunting Hulk harmony. . .

So we finally got some rain down here in big Tex!! After what seems like a seven year drought (and in my dream, I beheld seven ugly, gaunt cows), Saturday morning began with a monsoon! After all of the fires we've had down here (one was about a mile from my house 2 weeks ago!), hopefully this moisture will quell that.

I gave the kids science homework over the weekend. Tomorrow, they'll be turning in lists of items, separated into categories by Solids, Liquids, and Gases. It's always fun to read these lists and see what items have been misrepresented, and what unique items the kids put on their lists. So far, no one has listed Nightcrawler's smelly BAMF cloud or Terminator 2's liquid metal. I'm very curious to see if any bodily functions appear on the list. Last year, one boy did list "fart" under the gas column. Good for him for thinking outside the box. Just as long as he keeps things inside the bowl.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Pennywise makes an appearance

On Wednesday of this week, as my class was coming back inside from recess, several of my girls were telling me that somebody had seen a clown outside, and this clown had killed a kid. My mind immediately flashed back to the Stephen King story "It," but I thought surely no eight-year-old kid would have read that book or even have seen that very scary movie.
On Thursday, before any of the teacher realized what was going on, a huge group of third graders (about 50 or 60) was out in the far corner of the soccer field where there is a sewer grate. I went out to the field and chased them all back onto the playground, only to hear about twenty confirmations that there was a killer clown living down in the sewer.
So now, not only has somebody clearly been watching IT and spreading the story around, but I also get first hand proof that my kids are so brilliant that instead of running FROM a would-be killer clown, they would actually swarm CLOSER to it. (Have I told you that I do NOT work at a Vanguard school?)
Some of the students seem genuinely terrified, but the school counselor has been talking about it with them, trying to calm their fears. I can only hope that next week, nobody comes to school talking about a red and white 1958 Plymouth Fury that can drive by itself. . .

Adding another cap

Well now doesn't this just beat all? Former design engineer, former Best Buy Sales Associate, former telemarketer, former phone book delivery driver, former independent contractor, current teacher, and NOW. . .(drumroll please). . . blogger extraordinaire! Well, we'll see if the superlative fits, but at least I'm on the scoreboard, right? Let's see what happens!