Thursday, February 24, 2011

What's THAT Smell???

I just had to share this. It's one of those reasons that I wrote about the other day - moments in the classroom where I just laugh and enjoy those precious kiddos.

A classroom can get pretty stinky. Make that really stinky. Especially in the spring, when kids wear jackets all day. It gets warm enough that the kids could take off the jackets and be warm, but we are creatures of habit. We wear the same jacket over and over again. Students might play chase at lunch, but that jacket doesn't come off. They might race during P.E., but that jacket doesn't come off. Add some weight lifting during athletics, rushing across campus to beat the tardy bell, and throw in some rushing hormones; multiply that by 19 or 17, 20, or 26. And it makes a stinky situation at times.

That was not the problem today. It was MUCH worse! When I opened my classroom door, the stench almost knocked me over. It was B.A.D. Like something had died. I got out the "clean linen" air freshener, kicked up the A/C, and sprayed and sprayed and sprayed. I would like to say the room got better; instead it got smellier. Now it smelled like something had died in a laundry room, but it was still dead.

I had to get past the horrible smell and start class. My kids, 7th and 8th grades, have been working on regular and irregular verbs.  Digging around on the 'net, I found some printable worksheets for practicing base form, past, and past participle irregular verb forms. I knew the worksheets had some verbs that my students do not often use.  This would be great practice, but they would probably need some help. I decided to make it a small game.  Partners were chosen. On the board across the front of the room hung twenty or so sheets containing an alphabetical list of an irregular verb dictionary which came from the same site as the worksheets. Students were told to fill in the missing blanks on the worksheets. Teams could go to the board to get help if they needed it. At the end, we would see which team had the most correct answers with the least trips to the board. Sounds simple doesn't it?

First period went smoothly. After everyone stopped complaining about the stink. Second period (7th graders) again settled in and worked quietly. A little more slowly than first period, but getting there. Third period is my conference period. Fourth period came in, and it was all about the stink again! I had gotten almost immune to the smell by this time, but they were a new group and smelling it for the first time. They eventually settled in and started on the worksheets. Now, two other classes had done this very same activity - choose a partner, fill in the blanks, go to the board if you need some help. Why was the principal's daughter the one to notice?

"Mrs. Mer, there's a dirty word on the board."

"What?" (Meaning "What did you say?" or "What do you mean a dirty word?")

"S-H-I-T! It says s-h-i-t. Did you know it said that?"

Had I read all 22 pages of irregular verbs? No.

I did read several pages. I clicked through the other pages and didn't noticed anything bad, but right there smackdabbed in the middle of the S's it sat. Base form: shit, Past: shitted, Past Participle: shat.

Well, after that there was an increase in the number of students needing help from the board. Even in the afternoon classes. They all had to go see for themselves that I had posted a "dirty word" on the board. One boy in eighth period went to the board at least seven times. Like it really wasn't there the first six times he read it. Like he had never seen the word written down before. Like he never had a teacher post a "dirty word" on the board before.

Wonder what they told their parents tonight. Did they talk about the awful smell in my room and the dirty word on the board? Did anybody even remember we were practicing irregular verbs?

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