Every year for the past three I have voted against the two-week spring break, but right now that stretch can’t be here too soon or last too long. I’m crabby and ready for a long break. And we haven’t even had any actual bad weather this year at all, like you all in South Dakota and Virginny and places like that…

Speaking of… Mrs. M, have you read Downtown Owl? It’s set in a fictional NORTH Dakota town in 1984, and features a noob hs history teacher. There really isn’t much of a plot, but it’s one of those books where you don’t care because the characters are so good. Well, not necessarily “good.” You know what I mean.

Is there some sort of rivalry between North and South Dakota? Just wondering…

Heather, over in the comments, says I’m brave to bust out Tom Sawyer this year. More like moronical, as my brother used to say. I swear, Mark Twain’s comedy stylings fly right over about half of them, but when I act it out and explain, they’re rolling on the floor. And I know I ain’t that funny. There just isn’t the vocabulary and background knowledge any more. Everything has been spoon-fed and videoed. They were laughing harder at the cheesy 1938 version. I showed excerpts of today.

Nobody has done this book justice yet… Why might that be? It seems like it’s comedic gold.  Maybe I’m just an old English teacher.

Back when I started, most of them would laugh in the right places, and when I asked for projects at the end, I got things like skits with dialogue MEMORIZED from the book and actually REHEARSED.  I got a Lego version of the scene in the graveyard in EXCRUCIATING detail; it was like 3’x3’x4′ high, including the elm trees. Mom had to tote it in her SUV. I got papers talking about MT’s irony… I got… to get over it…

Now get offa my lawn.

I think mostly I brought Tom back because I wanted my boy to experience it… Is that bad?

This year, I have about half digging it (and really working the wiki), and like before, some of them are kids you’d never expect. One girl, who failed the first semester, but has been working hard in the second half, has really latched on to this book. I saw her reading it as she got off the bus AFTER school, and she’s been acing the quizzes, UNLIKE some of my supposedly better students. Some of MT’s commentary goes over her head, but she’s really getting the feel of the book, the fun of it.

This here blog isn’t usually one of those that just links to links and suchlike, but I do have a couple of links for you this time.

My fave education critic, Marion Brady, is back in the Washington Post with another thought-provoking poke at standardized testing: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/what-standardized-tests-should-assess/2012/03/11/gIQAJzDfSS_blog.html

And here’s one that the wife sent me: “‘A Test You Need to Fail’: A Teacher’s Open Letter to Her Eighth Grade Students.”