I was going to talk about the absolute silence that reigned when I turned them loose to read silently today. OK I will anyway, then I’ll rant about make-up work requests.

I told them today I was going to read aloud up to the bottom of page 146, and then they were going to read silently until the end of chapter 11. I told them I wanted to watch them read (you’d be surprised at what you see – or maybe you wouldn’t), and see how well they could do on a quiz on their own. (Most of the Outsiders quizzes have been open-mouth stylie.)

“But we don’t read as good as you! Or as fast!”

“Well, not good. Adverb, remember? You’ll be fine. You don’t all have to be finished at the same time. You’ll get time each day this week.”

I gave them a 20 question quiz to finish along the way. (Question 20: Why is Dally’s death somehow sadder than Johnny’s? Be sure to use an example from the book.) I read up to Dally saying, “Sucker,” to the cop. I left them laughing, and told them they were on their own.

Instant, absolute silence.

I was afraid to even rummage for a pen in my desk for fear of breaking the spell. I needn’t have worried. The fire alarm could have gone off, and they wouldn’t have cared. One kid had a slip delivered saying he had to leave for an appointment. Nobody even noticed the office aide who delivered it. (These aides are usually an object of fascination, especially if they are former students of mine.)

“Can I stay and read?”

“I don’t think your dentist would like that. Or Mom.”

I also collected their Color Essays. I asked them to turn in the brainstorming, the rough draft, final draft, and a filled out rubric (self grade). I pick up one kid’s packet, and it’s missing the brainstorming.

“I forgot to do that part.”

Now that’s a reasonable response. However, his next line is the one that fries my bacon, so to speak, and is one of the things I don’t like about middle school.

“Can I make it up?”

Remember, this is something that he was supposed to do before all the drafting and revising. It would be pointless to “make up” something like that. Especially after he turns in the paper! But to middle-schoolers, it’s a perfectly reasonable request. (Well, to most of their parents also, I’m afraid.)

This year I added some FAQs about this sort of stuff.

The bottom line is:

Extra credit (or make up work) for you is extra work for me.