“-isms” (Also: mucous)

November 29, 2008

All this sleeping in this week is making me a little laggy…

When we were talking about idiosyncrasies and -isms the other day, one of the kids brought up the fact that I have a lot of “Mr. Coward-isms.” Point well taken. Examples follow. (Some of them already have their own entries.)

1. MYOB – Mind your own business. Although it’s usually said “bidness.” The initials (a staple of Dear Abby advice back in the day) are always present on one or more whiteboards in my room. When we read Tom Sawyer, it changes to TTYOB – Tend to your OWN bidness, as Aunt Polly tells Jim. As I tell the kids, “You have enough trouble doing that.” Other variations include, “Is this your conversation?” and “I wasn’t talking to you.”

2. The Quiet Stick

3. The Raffle King

4. Clickers

5. “Save it for circle time.” – Seventh graders always want to share (except when you want them to, or about what you want them to). They like to take the discussion off-track. I like a detour now and then, but…when they start wanting to share stories and “this happened to my friend” and… Well, I’m not big on sharing. So I say, “Save it for circle time.” Being seventh graders, it takes at least 6 or 8 times before they stop asking when that is.

“We don’t have circle time.”

6. The Timer

7. Mental Floss/Trackwords/Doodle Theme/Nigh NIgh – We have a test almost every Friday. The warm up before the test is always “mental floss.” I got the name from a cartoon by B. Kliban (the guy who did all those weird cat cartoons). I also call it “scraping the mucous off your brain.” I’ve read that one of the causes of Alzheimer’s disease might be a form of plaque in the brain, and that mental stimulation, such as crossword puzzles and brain teasers, seems to help keep it from forming. So we warm up every Friday with some mental floss. (I’m trying to put all the floss up at Brainscramble.com. Send me an e-mail if you want the answers.)

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“Help Me Scrape the Mucous Off My Brain”

Also since, during the week the kids have opportunities to exempt themselves from portions of the test (see below), I might have some of them who have to answer all 40 questions, and some who have 5 or 10 to do. So every Friday, it’s…

“If you’re finished early, you have four choices: read or do homework, Trackwords – this week it says 195 words are possible, doodle on the back of your sheet – this week’s theme is ‘the aliens have landed,’ or put your head down on your desk and go nigh nigh.”

Trackwords Grid

Trackwords Grid

Trackwords is an old PC game that gives you a grid of letters and asks you to form words by chaining adjoining letters together. So you could go from the R in the second row to the A below it and then T and E to form RATE. But you can’t go from that R to the U, because they aren’t touching. I give +1 for the first 15 words (3+ letters long, no foreign, no abbreviations), and another +1 for every 10 after that. Most of the early finishers choose this option. They LOVE this. I just generate a puzzle, snap a screenshot of the grid and paste it into the test. My old class dictionaries get a lot of use on Fridays.

“Is kibar a word?”

“The dictionaries are over there.”

I am an inveterate doodler. My faculty meeting agendas are completely covered on both sides with doodle after doodle. It’s a running gag at every meeting I attend; they all want to see what I’m doodling. Mostly it isn’t all that different from what I was doodling in seventh grade: big heads with bulging eyes, propeller beanies, beatniks with shades, maybe a spaceship or two, a guillotine if the meeting is especially lame. Anyway, I like to channel some of that in my students. I use the doodle theme to preview things we will be reading. Before “Monsters on Maple Street” we doodled on the theme of monsters. Before The Giver, we doodled on the future, the perfect society, and love (oh there were some good ones for that, among all the hearts). I offer up to +3 for impressive doodles

Not many nap.

Phew. That’s only seven -isms? My short list had at least eight more.

Next post:


9. No dice, Cheese Slice/No doubt, Rainbow Trout

10. Schoolhouse Rock

11. Open Mouth Quizzes

12. SSI

13. Am I exempt?

14. Extra credit for you means extra work for me.

15. Join me at break.

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2 Responses to “-isms” (Also: mucous)

  1. Betty on November 30, 2008 at 5:05 am

    Thanks for all of the laughs this morning. I love your doodle idea. All of my notes are also covered with doodles. I used to draw people with giant dog heads. When I clicked on Trackwords, the link didn’t work, but I loved the brain song.:)

  2. mrC on November 30, 2008 at 9:46 am

    Thanks for the kind words. I fixed the Trackwords link.

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Mr. Coward has been teaching on the beautiful central coast of California since 1989. He sometimes tweets when he's in the right mood: @mrCinSLO.


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