I finally got all five classes through chapter 5 and into chapter 6. Man, we’re moving slowly this year. I’ve decided to get a move on, and with any luck, get to the rumble by Friday. And since we’re also working on our color justification essays this week, I did the unthinkable… I cut…back…on..home…work. Boy, that was hard to even say.

A couple of years ago, I added an extra R to KBAR. I like to say that I did it so I could talk like a pirate, but it was really to remind the kids of the importance of the RESPONSE. It’s also the part most of them sort of dread. So there was almost  universal jubilation when, as they were copying the week’s homework into their assignment books (“We call them planners…”), I used the Stick to point to the line that read, “No response this week.”

“Yesssssssss.”  (Aside: Dunno if it’s just around here or what, but in the last year or so, I have noticed a marked increase in the incidence of entire classes hissing in celebration at a correct answer or good news from me. Yesssssssssss. They hold the s for days, like they’re all leaking air. I’ve had to Quiet Stick a few classes into submission to stop it.)

“Well, it’s sort of a good news/bad news thing.” And I point out that the essay final draft is due Friday.


“But there’s no Pink Sheet this week.”


“Because I want you to focus on your essay.”


The essay is the first actual essay of the year. You know, with a second draft and all that. I stole/mutated the assignment from one I got from a Kate Kinsella workshop. (If you get the opportunity, go see her; she rocks. Maybe I’ll devote a whole post to shtuff I learned/stole from her.) Their job is to choose a color that represents various aspects of their lives, and then show why that color is so representative of them. The handout is here. Example essays (of varying degrees of quality, so we can rubricize them and show how they can be improved) are here, here, and here. It’s a pretty short assignment that they can all do, and it demos the process and format for essays like this. Most of them do pretty well. Only a few give me favorite color/I-look-good-in-blue essays.

Speaking of colors…

As we blazed through chapter 5, we paused and did our “Nothing Gold Can Stay” thing. It’s surprising how many don’t know from Eden.

“That’s where Adam and Eve were. And what happened to Adam and Eve?”

NOW I get the whole story, when all I wanted was…

“They got the boot! No more golden age for you.”

They’re very good about changing Nothing Gold Can Stay into nothing good lasts forever.

“Have any of you noticed how often Pony has used the word gold in this book? His mother, Soda’s hair, Soda’s horse, the sunrise just now… gold in this book symbolizes almost anything that is good. So, what ‘gold’ did Ponyboy have that he lost?”

Some genius blurts out, “His hair!”

“I was hoping for something a bit more significant than that, but OK.”

“His parents!”

“Good. Now what about Soda? And you can’t say parents again.”

Almost all of them scream out, “Mickey Mouse!” (the horse)

“Yesssssss. Ok, what about Darry? And you still can’t say parents.”

Most of them get this one too.

“His life!”

“Exactly. He had a life before. Now he’s raising two teenagers.”