Every Friday is test day. And like everything in my class, there’s a routine.

First: They record their warm up scores, squiggles on handouts, and extra credit for the week in a form at the top of the test. Like this:

Test 8. Name:                                                                       Date:                        Period:
Sentence Combining:___/10   Spelling Crossword: ___/10
Warm Ups: 10/15:____/8,  10/16:___/7,  10/17: ___/10
Non-Clicker Extra Credit:

Mental Floss:


The warm ups  (and everything else we do in class) are all in their notebooks so they can, God forbid, study for the test, since I basically just copy and paste them into the test. This is how they get into the gradebook. And of course there are always the gluey ones who, no matter how many times we’ve gone through the procedure, mange to leave everything blank. My slave student assistant, who enters most of the numbers, is trained to enter zero if anything is left blank. I get a lot of e-mails until the kids start to get that I mean it when I tell them that. I circulate and watch them fill in the paperwork and spot check when I’m feeling suspicious, but they are mostly all very honest.

The sentence combining was homework that I read while they were warming up the day it was due. (My motto: Take nothing home.) I scrawled my score live and moved on. Now they have to fish it out of the black hole that is their binder/backpack and record it. Oh? You lost it? Better you than me, baby. Better find it if you want the points.

After I circulate and check the spelling crossword (easy to check because it only goes together one way, eh?) , they get to wad it up and shoot it at the recycle bin at the front of the classroom. I award extra credit whose value depends on how far away you are when it goes in or how many lucky bounces you got along the way. Then they write, “Hoops +3” or whatever I happen to blurt out. Sometimes I swat them away like an NBA center. By the end of the day there are 140+ wads of paper on the floor at the front of the room. I have the detention people clean them up.

Some weeks there is a grammar Pink Sheet that I first check (you got it; while they’re warming up…are we seeing a trend here?) to see if they took a diligent shot at it. If so, I scrawl OK or 10/10  on it, but to most of them it looks like a squiggle. (We will actually correct it later in the period.)

“You didn’t squiggle on my sheet! I did it!”

“Ok. Ok. Relax. Consider it squiggled.”

So on Friday, I end up saying shtuff like…

“A squiggle on your Pink Sheet means 10, so if you have one on both sides you can put 20/20 on the sheet. If you have a squiggle and a “1/2″, that would mean 15/20…” and so forth.

And no, nobody has been able to successfully replicate “the squiggle.” Plus I always use some sort of distinctive pen. Sort of like how they do with ski lift tickets.

Second: When the paperwork is finally finished–it actually goes pretty quickly by the time we’re at test #8–we move to my fave part of the week: Mental Floss.

These are the brain teasers and trick questions we have every Friday to, as I tell them, scrape the mucous off their brains before the test. It also helps them to start thinking a little bit non-linearly, or outside the box as they say.

This year’s crew is very sweet and eager, but they are still pretty literal thinkers. Case in point…

Here was last Friday’s Mental Floss:

  1. A doctor and a bus driver are both in love with the same woman, an attractive girl with the unusual name of Pibbles. The bus driver had to go on a long bus trip that would last a week. Before he left, he gave Pibbles seven apples. Why?
  2. A tennis player is ranked number 200. He moved up 87, went down 28, and went up 117 places. What is he ranked?
  3. What property do 1, 2, 6, and 10 all have that no other whole number has?
  4. Use the clues below to figure out the missing four words to complete an old expression
    Baby = Slept peacefully.  Child = Slept well.   Woman = Slept restlessly.   Man = Slept peacefully.
    The man ______  ______  ______  ______.
  5. I, Professor Picanumba, will amaze and astound you. Take a piece of paper and write any word on it. Fold the paper in half, twice and put it on the floor. Now stand on it. Believe it or not, I will now tell you what is on the paper. How can I know?
  6. Follow these steps and see if you can figure out what’s missing from this sequence.

    • 1) Get a brown cardboard box.
    • 2) Get purple, orange, and turquoise paints.
    • 3) Paint the box orange.
    • 4) Paint on purple spots.
    • 5) Paint on turquoise stripes.
    • 7) Turn it upside down.
    • 8) Lie on your side.

The only answer you’ll get here is to #5.

As I was going over the answers, I demonstrated #5. I asked for a volunteer (every single hand went up), and had “Chris” go through the motions. Which he did rather diligently I was told. (I was very dramatically covering my x-ray eyes with my hands, so I wouldn’t know.) After he was standing on the paper, I uncovered my eyes, and played like Johnny Carson back in the day.

“Ok (concentrating very hard), now what is on the paper??? Hmmm… I have it! Chris!”

Most of them get it right away, the rest take another 10 seconds. Chris takes 5 more.

Then I ask him, out of curiosity, what he actually wrote on the paper.



Then they take the test, and I read KBAR responses. Live. In class. So I don’t have to take them home.