Monday, April 16, 2012
Today is the first day back after spring break. The kids arrive on time (sort of), and are slightly more alert than usual. Certainly they are filled with gossip that they long to share with one another.
Unfortunately for them, it's also the day before their State Exams - the pinnacle of their year of work. I write my lesson on the board.
"Students will be able to: a. wake their brains up, b. refresh their reading comprehension skills, c. calm 'Ed' down.
We do lots of review worksheets, going over them as a class, trying to remember the vocabulary that they have learned and promptly forgotten. At the end of class, I introduce them to 'Ed' by drawing a stick figure on the board.
"This is Ed." I draw a hat, with the tag still on it, the way that they like to wear their hats. When I draw his shoes, they correct me.
"What kind of shoes are those!" they exclaim, mortified at the brandless sneakers.
"Ed is new to this country," I explain, "he's still not totally up on the fashions."
They accept this.
"Ed is FREAKING OUT. Ed has just moved here, and he has to take the state exam tomorrow! He's frazzled and teary-" I draw tears and stress lines on the board, "and he is so nervous that he can't eat! Look - he's basically a stick now!"
I tell them that Ed has questions that they must answer by writing him a letter, that I'll deliver to him tonight.
This was my approach to making sure that they have thought about tomorrow - mentally prepared for the various parts of the exam, committed to getting a bit of sleep, and eating something other than sugar for breakfast. Through teaching, perhaps they will learn.
Most of the letters were good - showed me that the kids are indeed prepared for what lies ahead this week. Some made an effort at comedy - telling Ed to just cheat if it gets too tough, and warning him not to wear anything too nice if he doesn't want to get jumped.
Tomorrow before the test, I'll read them Ed's response, hopefully something a little bit funny, and a little bit helpful.
"Thanks guys, I was going to wear my new Jordans, but now I know that flip-flops are safer!"