Saturday, May 29, 2010

Live Event Learning And A 4th Grade Flashback

As we began our final unit of Honors Biology the other day (Systems), I decided that droning on and on about the circulatory, respiratory, endocrine, blah blah blah was not the best idea for my students or for me. At this point in the year, everyone's a little squirrelly so it seemed like a great opportunity for some group work. Poster project and presentation, anyone?

The kids took right to it, researching and preparing to share the wonders of the human body with their classmates. As each group proceeded to the front of the room, I kept things light with wacky biology teacherisms like, "Boy, I'm a little scared of this next group...Anybody else a bit nervous about hearing what they have to say?" Corny, I know, but sometimes a little levity is really effective when it comes to my ninth graders.

So it was in this spirit that when the digestive system representatives came up, I tried to think of a little something quippy to say. I actually didn't have to, though, because one of the kids took care of that for me. Or so I thought. As he made his way to the front, a student with a normally great sense of humor came over to me and said, "Mrs. Balla, can I go out in the hall? I have to throw up." Good one! Digestive system...throw up. Cute.

Only problem was...He meant it. I opened the door and out he went. Well, at least he had the coverage of a closed door and fairly empty hallway...but not the trash can. I was a little late on that one. All I could think was that he'll never forget this "presentation!"

After asking another student to accompany him to the nurse and pressing the call button for back-up (or should I say, clean-up), I threw some paper towels over the evidence and stepped back into the classroom. Hmm. Transition?

Believe it or not, his group had completed their presentation while I was out in the hallway, so I was back at center stage. Suddenly I was overtaken by a flashback that I thought was appropriate to share at that very moment...

It was 4th grade and I was in Mrs. Petty's class. I was the "class pet" (remember those days?), so when Miss Freddie, our custodian, came down to our classroom looking for a volunteer and I raised my hand, I was a shoe-in for the job. Little did I know that there had been an "incident" in the girl's bathroom that Miss Freddie couldn't stomach. (Sorry, I couldn't resist!) Anyways, she needed me to sprinkle some kind of green powdery stuff on it. I can still picture the white bucket and the cup I used to carefully cover someone's partially digested breakfast. Yuck! (I know what you're thinking...She thought she was the class pet? ) When I think about it I can't imagine any current teacher asking a student to help with the clean-up of bodily fluids.

Oh, did I mention that my 6th grade teacher used to send me after school to get her cigarettes at the corner store? I used to think I was class pet then, too. I may want to re-think this as well.

Different times...different times!

A little diversion, a little chuckle and, "now that we've had a little breather, let's hear from..."



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