I swear, their timing is impeccable. Just as I start to feel better and (presumably) get less crabby, the kids start to aggravate even more than usual. But I guess I should be happy that, for a couple of them, there might have been a breakthrough. And yes, I still call them kids. I crack up at the teachers who say, “OK children…” Gawd, we would have died laughing if Sr. Enda, or even the hippy art teacher, had called us children. The art lady almost didn’t come back after our reaction to her calling us playbabies.

I have preached again and again in this here blog about how important it is to have a routine in a junior high classroom. Because no matter how many times they say they hate it when things are always the same, the reality is that they cannot cope without regularity and a routine.  So my class is built around the weekly routine:

Go over/explain homework for the week. (Like I tell parents at BTSN, “If they come home on Wednesday, saying Mr. Coward just assigned this and it’s due tomorrow…it’s a lie. They get it all on Monday.”)
Warm up that intros our grammar/mechanics concept (it’s  a pink sheet if I also assign it for homework) for the week or that practices the first few spelling or academic words for the week. Or both, if I’m feeling sporty. Sometimes it’s a writing exercise like sentence combining/scrambling, or something like the one I did this week, which made the majority of them apoplectic. (Scroll down to the bottom of the post to see that one.)
Go over the test from the previous Friday to see “where the wheels fell off the cart”– where the majority of them went wrong–and thus warn them of the Husker Du (“Do You Remember?” in Norwegian, and the name of a memory game and a fine ’80s punk band) section of the next test, where I rerun the five most missed questions from the previous test.
Reading in whatever novel we’re working on.

Warm up. Spelling/Academic Words (alternating weeks).
Pink Sheet: Grammar/Mechanics concept.
If there was assigned reading: Q/A then quiz.
Reading aloud/discussion.

Warm up: Ditto above. (Warm ups get rerun on the test. Always.) I check h/w and 600 words during warm ups too.
Pink Sheet Pretest #2. They have to bat 90% for the week to get out of that part of the test Friday.
Vocabulary. Go over h/w. Summon RaffleKing. Pretest for exemption. Vocabulary is ALWAYS on Wednesday.
Time? Read aloud or demo writing examples on document cam (or overhead) if we are working on essays.

Warm up. Duh. Vocab and spelling and/or AW practice.
Pink Sheet #3.
Sometimes we do a “lightning round” with the clickers to practice for the test.
Read aloud/Check out material related to what we’re reading.

Record scores for the week.
Mental Floss.
Test on the week’s material.
Doodle/Trackword/Read/Nap/Check KBAR and etc.


Last Friday, we had Test #18. Which means that, not counting short weeks and such, we have gone through the above cycle AT LEAST EIGHTEEN TIMES. If you figure that each week, I probably explained and demonstrated the daily procedures to each class at least five or six times…hmmm…

18 x 5 = 90

They have been exposed to the procedures and routines at least 90 times.

So I think most all of you can empathize with the frustration I felt today when not one, not two, not even three or four, but more like a half-dozen  “children” raised their hands and asked questions such as…

“Are we taking a vocab pretest today? I can’t remember.”

“Should I study the warm ups for the test?”

“What happens if I get them all right on the vocabulary pretest?”

“When is the test?”

That one almost made me lose it.

But then there were a couple who asked their questions like this:

“I studied the vocab last night. Don’t we get to skip the test if we get them all right on the pretest?”

“Yessss! Someone’s been paying a little attention at least.”

“When’s the pretest?”