Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Seventh Grade

Today my seventh graders are working in groups. They are making an "English Class for Dummies" pamphlet for aliens who have just arrived on earth and wish to ace my class. The students have to brainstorm how a good story is constructed, what is needed in a five paragraph essay, paper headings, format, grammar, spelling, dialogue, and sentence structure. What makes an effective essay? What makes a story interesting?

The students get to work quietly. I give them popcorn in brown paper bags. They applaud.

Then, a fight breaks out in the boy's group! Popcorn everywhere! Emanuel's down. A volley of yellow missiles--spinning rounds of death! Another assault! They've got gold fever. The war drums tremble. The sides draw together, yellow war paint across their cheeks, their brows. They scowl, ready for that shattering of shields.

Or, perhaps, the war was averted before the first kernel was cast. "If I hear the word 'popcorn' again, there will be no more popcorn."

Silence. The scratch of pens.

David uses the brown paper bag as a gas mask.

Ah, c'est la guerre. Pick your battles.

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