When Marking Exams Is Enjoyable.

These students prove that exams can be positive learning experiences.

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Am I supposed to enjoy marking exams quite so much?

These kids are awesome!

Preparation: Who Needs It?

There’s always at least one in every group who doesn’t follow instructions.

Last Friday, I gave my History class an essay question half a week in advance of their assessment task.

They were to prepare a plan and notes to use while writing the essay in class this week. I advised them that they could use their handwritten notes and their textbook while writing, but they were not allowed the use of any devices. All the information about the task was given to them in writing as well as my explaining everything in class.

I expected that today, when the students came to class, they would be ready to start. Happily for me, most were.

And then, because nothing ever goes smoothly, this happened:

Student A: “Can we type this?”

Me: No. No devices.

Student B: “My notes are at home. Can I use my iPad?”

Me: “No. No devices.”

Student C: “Can you write the question on the board please?”

Me: “I gave you the question on Friday.”

Student C: Yeah but I didn’t write it down.

Me: That makes me happy.
Bemused, I wrote the question on the board.

Student B: “What page is it in the textbook?”

Me: “Do you mean the pages you were supposed to read and study last week?”

Student B: “Yeah.”

Me: Speechless, I allow The Eyebrow to speak for me.

All the kids except two commenced writing. Students B and D, though? They’re still reading the textbook.

Wasn’t Expecting That. 

I just asked a Year 10 student to turn his music off while he was working on a history presentation that is due tomorrow. 

He said, “I bet you don’t even know that song.”

“I might,” I answered. “What song was it?”

“The Battle of New Orleans” by Johnny Horton. 

Whoa. 

That stopped me.  This kid must have digitized his grandfather’s old record collection.

“I do, actually.”

Then he sang, “We fired our guns and the British kept a-comin’…”

And I sang, “There wasn’t nigh as many as there was a while ago!”

He thought that was pretty cool, I guess. Then I asked him how much he wanted me to tell him about the War of 1812.

It’s incredible how suddenly kids can become motivated to work on the assignment that is due tomorrow. I wish I knew how that happened. 

No correct answer.

This morning my students were laughing as they told me the story about the black eye one young lady among them is sporting, due to accidentally being hit on the bridge of the nose with a spoon by another student. 

The wielder of the spoon got to the point where he was laughing uncontrollably.

“It’s because I’m a comic genius, isn’t it?” I asked him.

Still laughing, he looked at me and almost said no, then stopped himself.

“You know, there’s no correct answer to that question!” said the student next to him.

The laughter stopped, and he said, “Yeah, I’m just not going to say anything.”

I win. 

Comic genius, it is.

Out of the mouths of… teenagers.

My Year 10 English class studied John McCrae’s WWI poem “In Flanders Fields” yesterday. In our discussion, we contrasted it with some of the more brutal poetry about the war that we’ve been studying, such as Wilfred Owen’s “Dulce Et Decorum Est”.

When I asked them what we could learn from the contrasts in the poetry.
one student answered, “Canadians are awesome and generally more polite about things than the English!”

Sorry, English people. He’s getting an A+.

Why Pronunciation Matters #43

While teaching senior high school can be challenging, I have often found it to be highly entertaining. 

This morning in my  Year 12 English class, I was in the process of assigning roles for my students to read as part of our study of Bertolt Brecht’s play “Life of Galileo”.  

Student 1: “Can I be Galileo?”

Me: “Sure! Any other requests?”

Student 2: “I’ll be the Doge.”

Student 3: “That’s pronounced ‘douche’!”

General laughter ensued. 
What a great way to start a Friday.

Man, I love those guys! 

My favourite.

In class just now:

Student: “Can we please put some music on?”

Me: “No.”

Student: “Even if you choose it?”

Me: “No.”

Student: “But I want to know what music you like.”

Me: “I like lots of different types of music.”

Student: “What’s your favourite song right now?”

Me: “The sweet sound of people working on their history assignments.”

Student: “Oooh, I’m going to look that up!”

Me: Sigh. 

I tried.

From time to time, teachers are asked to cover lessons for colleagues who are absent for some reason. 

Today I had the privelege of covering a Y10 Health and Human Development class.
They could have been discussing exercise, nutrition or health… but, no.

That would have been waaayyy  too easy. They had to be learning about male and female body parts and their functions. 

While I was busy asking myself why these lessons always seem to be handed to me, I was interrupted by a student asking a question.

Student 1: “What’s the cervix again?”
Student 2: “It’s the trapdoor thing that stops the baby coming out.”

Wait. The what??

Very diplomatically, I suggested he might like to look things up in a dictionary, or at least the printed notes they had been given to read and highlight. I don’t think he did, though. 

A little later, Student 1 had another question: “Are the uterus and the urethra the same thing?”

Again, I pointed him to the printed notes and the dictionary.

“How is that going to help me?” he asked. 

“How indeed?”  I thought to myself. 


I’m sorry, Miss K.  I tried. 

Out of the mouths of babes. 

In church this morning, this conversation happened:

Pastor: “What can God do that we can’t?”

Kid #1: “Work.”

Pastor: “What kind of work can God do that we can’t?”

Kid #2: “Make things!”

Pastor: “What things?”

Kid #1: “Um… Trees?”

Kid #2: “Elephants.”

Kid #3: “Toilets!”

No prizes for guessing that the pastor wasn’t expecting that.