Statistics and crime map…
Mar 22 Published in Remembrance, Reflections by Purple
This is a continuation of my journal from my 2001-2002 school year. Please read the previous posts to give this entry context.
Friday, March 15, 2002
I went to see the vice-principal today and proposed that the school collapse my fifth period class for fourth quarter and allow me to finish the year on a fifth-sixths contract. If I lose Brandon, the class will be down to thirteen students.
The vice-principal took the idea seriously. The administration is looking for some money to fund another Newcomers section. This could work out perfectly.
Monday, March 18
I took down the leprechaun. He has moveable hands and legs. Every year I put him up, the boys move his arms into suggestive places.
“I wonder if I stapled the arms, if they’d still find a way to move them?” I remarked to my student teacher.
“At the university we’d call that an inquiry,” he said.
I decided to toss Mr. Leprechaun. Last week he blew off the door and one of my students recovered him from a garbage can down below.
Sixth period, though, Popo fished him out of my garbage can. “Are you throwing this away? Can I have it?”
I felt reluctant to let him have it, but for no discernible reason, so I let him take it.
I love oxymora. (I discovered that was the plural last year!) They are as fun to teach as puns. First of all, none of the students have heard of them, but Romeo and Juliet is full of them. The confused, love-sick Romeo says, “Why, then, O brawling love! O loving hate! O anything, of nothing first create! O heavy lightness! Serious vanity! Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms! Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health, still-waking sleep that is not what it is! This love feel I, that feel no love in this!”
I have a couple of articles on oxymora and it’s fun to show students how oxymora surround us: down escalator, jumbo shrimp, pretty ugly, etc. I follow up the articles with a nine-minute segment of the movie Renaissance Man. Danny Devito plays an ad man who’s given a job by the Unemployment Office to teach at a military base. His job is to teach the dumber than dumb students. I pick up where he has assigned his class to read something, anything, and to report to the class about what they’re reading. One student has brought in an Archie comic book.
One of the other students asks “Mr. Rigo” what he’s reading.
What he’s reading is nothing less than Hamlet. After the students prod Mr. Rigo, he tells them a bit about Shakespeare and the plot of Hamlet. He reads them a small section, which they don’t get. This leads to an explanation of simile, metaphor and oxymoron.
The assignment for my students is to come up with their own oxymora and to illustrate them. I’m afraid a lot of them go straight to the Internet. That is one thing I dislike about computers.
My workday was followed by a department meeting until four forty-five and then a meeting with my California Writing Project Writing Group until nine.
Students turned in their oxymora: non-alcoholic beer from Roberto, alone together from Sheridan, working vacation from Melissa, and higher grounds from Rosa.
They received their culminating assignment for the quarter—to memorize and to enact a small piece of Romeo and Juliet. They can present in front of the class or make a video of the performance. I handed out the rubric for scoring.
I was about ready to leave school when I heard a knock on the already locked door. I opened it to discover a woman who at a glance I knew must be Roberto’s mother. She has the same thick, rosy skin and stout build. On Roberto the freckles are visible; on her they are more subliminal. She had an open, friendly look and I was glad to see her. She and I have been playing phone tag for the last couple of weeks.
We sat down together and discussed Roberto and possible strategies. We both agree that Roberto is a pleasant enough fellow. He nods agreeably when we nag him. But then he goes about his business of doing nothing that we asked.
Roberto is a latchkey kid. He’s the oldest child with both parents working until after five. He doesn’t have any one to watch over him and he’s not self-motivated to do school work. I noticed the other day that Roberto has sprouted. At the beginning of the year, I would have described him as short and chunky. But the other day he was out of his seat, standing by someone short like Xochitl, and I suddenly noticed that he was tall and lanky. He must have grown four inches this year. It takes a lot of energy to grow that much. I wish I’d thought to mention that to his mom.
We looked at possible tutorials where he could go after school. I informed her of the different computer centers in town and different ways she can monitor Roberto’s progress without waiting for a progress report.
Roberto is also struggling in math. His teacher is Mrs. Patino. “She was my teacher, too,” his mother said, smiling.
Mrs. Patino was recently voted California Teacher of the Year. It’s reassuring that even a decorated teacher like Grace Patino shares the same difficulty with a student.