two – one hundred, twenty-three – forty-seven; No, that is not my locker combination! If it were, it would have to be a very large dial or one with very small numbers and even if it were my combination, I would not be able to read it. I woke this morning to the blaring of my alarm clock reminding me it was time to get out of bed and start a new day, a day that promises to be one more closer to spring break. The kids, my students, are restless and I must admit so am I. It is two days, two school days, before spring break.
“A little nonsense now and then, is cherished by the wisest men.”
Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator)
Last weekend’s weather was a tease of days to come. Saturday was warm enough to work outdoors without a coat and I got the last of the Christmas lights off the tree and packed away. They have not been lit since January, but it is difficult slogging through snow to get them down, so they usually stay in place until March. We had thunderstorms Sunday with hail in the morning and in the evening. Tuesday morning, the rumbling of thunder and the flash of lightning awakened me. This morning there was a dusting of snow on the deck and the windshield of my car parked in the driveway. I had planned to write Sunday about Saturday, and it did not happen. Monday came and went, so did Tuesday, and Wednesday and no writing. I suppose that is good as I spent time on other tasks: grading, planning, family, and me. This morning I had time, I told myself to write an update.
Monday evening I attended another author visit. This one was Lois Lowry and illustrator Eric Rohmann, promoting their new book, Bless this Mouse. She is the author of the book The Giver. I mentioned it in Saturday’s post and we are reading as a class. I had offered extra credit to any student who wanted to attend and I needed to verify attendance. However, the truth is I wanted to hear what she had to say. In getting ready to read her book, I wanted to give the students background information about her and who she is and why she writes for children. Sometimes it helps to have a few puzzle pieces in place before you start and I thought this was good a place as any. I read her blog, was intrigued, and read more, the more I read, the more I understood, and the more I wanted to discover. So, I went. I was not disappointed. Three students attended and I listened. The evening was largely devoted to her new book Bless this Mouse, but she did touch on two of her more famous books, both Newbery winners: Number the Stars and The Giver. It was interesting to hear and I left with another piece of the puzzle.
“We have so much time and so little to do. Strike that, reverse it.”
Roald Dahl from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Teaching adolescents is not easy. What I find interesting and intriguing, they could care less and conversely, what drives them, drives me bonkers! So, it is a delicate balance. With just two days remaining before spring break, the kids would prefer to count them down and use the time to talk and share, but I am working hard to make them count. We are reading The Giver and discussing it in class. The puzzle pieces I have discovered give me insight to how Ms. Lowry wrote and to me that is intriguing, for my seventh graders, I am not so sure. They are getting the bigger ideas and some are seeing the subtle messages about growing up. We have read up to chapter five and we’ll be reviewing for a quiz on Friday covering the first five chapters of the book. I don’t want them to read the book over break, though I am sure a few will, but most of all I am hoping they will remember the big ideas when we return.
The quotes from Roald Dahl may seem out of place, but they aren’t. I think of time often and how I use it ineffectively. Yet, that is my choice and Goethe eases my pain by saying it is okay, I use it in the way I do because of my values and what I think is important. I stumbled upon the ‘non-sense’ quote and it called to me as I remember I must think more like a seventh grader at times, than I do. If I did, it might make it easier to understand some of the blank looks I get and the ‘Idunno’ responses. ‘They are thinking, they are thinking, they are thinking’ is my mantra. We have spent one hundred, twenty-three days at school so far this year and forty-seven remain, adjusting for our two snow days. It seems like an awfully long time, either way you see it. The key is to make them count, make them valuable and worthwhile.
Spring break is near, but class starts in a few hours. I’ll have sixty or so seventh graders wondering if we’ll be ‘doing anything important’ today and I have a great day planned for them. Making the Days Count, one day at a time!