Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fun with Prefixes

I have awesome classes this year, and they finally gave me a couple of funny stories yesterday. We're doing prefixes and roots to build their vocab as readers. The kids have to use the dictionary to look up some words with prefixes, define them, then look up the actual prefix and define it, and finally list other words with the same prefix. I let them work together, and they actually enjoy it.
"No we don't!" they say.
"Yes you do," I answer. "You love this!"
Kids: "No we don't!"
Me: "Yes you do. This is fun!"
Kids: "No it's not!"

Anyway, one student swore he couldn't find the prefix magni- in the dictionary, and put the dictionary back on the shelf and said dismissively, "I can't use this dictionary- it's OLD." I had to chuckle, because he was referring to the dictionary I won in 5th grade when I won the county spelling bee. So I stopped class and showed them the inscription saying 1985 on the inside. We had a chuckle about a) the kid unintentionally calling me old and b) the fact that the dictionary really wasn't THAT old.

In my other class, I had to re-explain the rules of "Friday Fun Day."

Me: "So guys, when I created Friday Fun Day, I just meant it as a day of choice. You can read or write whatever you want, talk about books, or share your writing. I still want you to be doing something that makes you grow as readers and writers. This class misinterpreted my saying that you were allowed to doodle in your fun journal. I didn't mean you to sit with your friends and talk about random stuff while making signs that say "The Patriots Rule" or "Stay Out of My Room." I really couldn't justify that if, say, the superintendent walked in. Any drawing you are doing needs to be related to your reading and writing. Does everyone understand?"

Most of them looked at me with sad faces. One student said hopefully, "So could I write "Prefixes" in bubble letters and color it in?"

I laugh, then stop. "Wait- you're joking, right?"

Student: "No."

Me: "Oh- OK. Sorry, I didn't mean to laugh at you." (Putting my teacher face back on.) "Um, NO, you cannot draw the word "prefix" in bubble letters and color it in. That's the same thing as writing "Halloween" and drawing a bunch of candy corn. You're not showing that you know anything about prefixes. If you were to say, draw a small circle with "micro" in it, and a bigger circle with "macro" in it, that would be doodling that shows your knowledge."

Kid: "Oh. No, I don't want to do that."

They did pretty good with Friday Fun Day. Many kids read, four boys planned and made a new Friday Fun Day poster clarifying the rules, and one kid drew a creepy character from his book and then a couple other kids drew the same thing because they liked how creepy it was. It's the Friday before Halloween, so I let them get away with that.

Hm. Those stories really don't seem as funny now that I've written them down.

Is this story funny? During Friday Fun Time, one of my chattiest boy students came over and showed me that on several pages in my copy of a large illustrated copy of The Guinness Book of World Records, someone had written "Actual Size" near some drawings of like, the world's shortest man, or the world's largest feet.

Chatty student: "Look at that! That's so annoying! Someone wrote 'Actual size!'

Me, trying to act like I care: "Oh, uh-huh, yup."

Chatty student: "Look! There it is again! 'Actual size!' Isn't that so annoying? That's not actual size!"

Me: "Listen, don't worry about it."

Chatty student: "Look! There it is again! 'Actual size!' That is so annoying!"

Me: "I think it's kind of funny, actually."

Chatty student: "No it's not! It's annoying!"

Me: "Go sit down. If it's bothering you that much, don't read the book." And this is when I have to turn around and just laugh, because the conversations I have during my work day are so absurd... and fabulous. I've always loved the absurd.


Whitemist said...

I think I am glad i am not a teacher - especially in my field - i do not think a Friday fun day would do good in a chemistry class - no matter what age.

Fancy Pancakes said...

You totally could! They could illustrate chemical principles, they could write stories or jokes based on chemistry, they could make skits designed to teach a concept to the class... oh yes, you could do a Chemical Friday Fun Day! Just gotta set the rules.

Anonymous said...

When I was a Brownie leader, one of the girls brought a Cabbage Patch Kid for show and tell. So I told them about how my grandmother got in a fight with another grandmother over one of those dolls in a department store when I was their age. Because, you know, you had to be in line early to get a Cabbage Patch Kid in 1983.

One girl put her hand in the air, and asked in a mystified voice, "They had DEPARTMENT STORES when you were our age?"

Yeah. Um. Thanks for that one.

Age, as it turns out, is all a matter of perspective.