One of the before-school staff “development” days that wasn’t devoted to the new evaluation system was about the new “Common Core” Standards, and our beleaguered “teacher coaches”  were  in a little over their heads trying “coach” the combined staffs of our district’s two middle schools.

Phew, that was a “sentence.” And it looks like a scare quotes kind of day.

There were about 60+ teachers there to hear about how the new Common Core standards are going to change the way the kids are tested (especially in math), and therefore presumably change the way we teach to the new tests. The coaches (formerly known as TOSAs–Teachers on Special Assignment–I know it sounds straight out of Get Smart) were being helped out, and no doubt scrutinized, by upper level management from Instructional Services. Both staffs have more than their fair share of crabby vets who have “seen the pendulum swing back and forth, and blah blah blah” and so it was a tough crowd. I was even wearing my school pe sweatshirt, and had Sharpied in the box for my name with “Trouble.” (That also went over big at the back-to-school kickoff.)

Once we broke up into groups (my “favorite” thing), the ELA group was looking at teaching more so-called academic words. Way ahead of you baby. But now we’re supposed to break each word down into “word webs” and make charts and maps and suchlike. These kids are supposed to be absorbing at least 6000 words per year, and we don’t have time to spend “mind mapping” each one. They don’t have time in real life to make that a habit, and we don’t have time to do that for them individually. We have to figure ways to deliver it to all of them so they can get it without having to do all that “paperwork.” To me, that’s what teaching is, not… well, you know.

I don’t mean to dis a “deeper” approach, and anyone who’s been here before  knows that vocabulary is EVERYTHING for me, but that’s an awful lot of paper and time we ain’t got.

And as any good teacher or comedian will tell you, it’s all in the delivery.

Today we “went over” the vocabulary homework.

1) I ___________(ed) my mom to let me go to the movies.

I slide out of my rolly chair and go down on bended knee with hands clasped in supplication.

“PleasepleasepleasepleasepleasemomIswearIwon’tdoitagainIswearswearsweari’msooooosorrypleasepleasepleaseletmego? You’re begging, you’re pleading, you’re promising everything, you’re… what’d you get last night when you looked this one up on Hands? C’mon I am begging you.”

I might throw in a little bow and an “I am not worthy” sort of thing  at the end.


“You got it. Implore means to beg, fix it on your sheet if you got it wrong last night. It’s a verb, something you DO. Make a note–implore =beg–on your cheat sheet in case the RaffleKing decides to let you use it today on the pretest. And even if he says no, just the act of writing it down will help it stick in your brain.”

(BTW: The RaffleKing now has an app for your phone or tablet. Check the Android Market. It’s free. Dunno about iTunes, I don’t go there.)

4) I am _____________ of someone who promises me something for nothing.

“How many of you have a friend that Mom doesn’t like?”

It usually takes a few minutes for the furor to die down.

“All of them!”

“I got this one friend…”

“Stephen, no doubt, Stephen…”

“Umm… I wasn’t really asking you to tell me about them. A show of hands is all I really wanted.”

Almost everyone has a hand up.

“Ok. So you tell Mom that your want to go over to… Stephen’s house, and Mom gets this sort of look on her face…”

Now I do one of those grimace faces, where you scrunch up one eye and sorta shake your head little and tighten up the muscles in your neck.

“And she sort of goes, ‘I don’t know about that, I’m a little… uncomfortable with that. I don’t trust that kid…’  and so on. How many of you have seen that face and heard that speech? So Mom is a little suspicious, she’s… Hands for #4? I keep seeing the same four people. Let’s try Joe. Mom is a little…”


“Money. Even just saying the word…leeeeery… sort of makes you make that Mom face…’I’m a little leeeery of that Stephen kid…’ So on your cheat sheet, leery = suspicious, opposite of credulous which we had last week, an adjective that describes mom’s attitude toward your friend Stephen. And you know I’m going to rerun this one on the test because a lot of you got it wrong today, so you best be studying this one… I implore you.”