Oh tender!! Darling, tender, touching, and WONDERFUL! Sweet Gary and several students with similar sentiments “super-sized” my special day. There are probably a zillion (okay, at least 1000!) wonderful places to celebrate one’s birthday but, for me, room 204 at Ogden Preparatory Academy was one of the best.
My fifty-first birthday was awesome—my family began it early with a series of thoughtful gifts, friends by the dozens sent me birthday greetings, I had a luscious sushi dinner with Lance and watched some seriously talented actresses (Grace, Tanah, and Sara) perform on stage—and I could tell lots of stories about fabulous friends and family but I am not. Today’s stories center on students.
Every class began with a spontaneous (and raucous) rendition of the Happy Birthday song. The students sang it like they really meant it and I really loved it. In each class, when they began to sing, I donned a turkey hat and, as they concluded, I swept the hat off my head and bowed deeply. In third period, as I began to put it on, Andy yelled out, “Don’t put the hat on! You’ll mess up your hair!” How can you not love students like that?
Just before the day’s last class Jolene and Melissa showed up with cards they’d made. Each also proffered a gift. Jolene gave me chocolates (Where did she get them? I am completely confident she did not know it was my birthday when she came to school today…) and Melissa’s card had a dollar bill taped inside. My heart melted. Oh, how I love these kids!!!
My colleagues were wonderful too. Sam and Talyn (the other 2/3 of our science department) came to my room after school with fresh blueberries, gourmet popcorn, and a live, potted plant………..three of the things on my top five list of Earth’s simple things that bring me pure pleasure.
And, perhaps best of all, it was a fun teaching day. I did the liken-a-peanut-butter-sandwich-unto-the-rock-cycle demo which is always fun. What is that, you ask…. (Maybe you did not ask but I am going to describe it anyway…..) Let me tell you……..
“Once upon a time there was a lake situated between two mountain peaks. Wind, rain, ice, and snow weathered the mountain and gravity took the eroded sediment down to the lake bottom where it was compacted and cemented. [Put piece of wheat on the desk top.] What rock type is it?” (sedimentary rock)
(Can I have a bite, Mrs Hislop?)
“During an El Nino year the mountain side because saturated due to the increased precipitation and a huge mudslide flowed into the lake. [Spread chunky peanut butter onto the bread.] What rock type is it? (sedimentary rock)
(Mrs Hislop, can I eat it when you are done?)
“Not to long after that, one of the mountains, which happened to be a dormant volcano, erupted and lava flowed down the side of the mountain and into the lake. [Spread jelly on top of the peanut butter.] What rock type is it? (igneous rock) Notice the shiny, almost-glassy appearance of the lava. What does that mean? (It cooled quickly, extrusive igneous)
(Will you let me eat it now, Mrs. Hislop?)
“Things returned to normal for the next thousand years and the weathering, erosion, compaction, cementation process continued. [Put piece of wheat on top of the jelly.]
(I get it when she is done!)
“Now, let’s say you are a geologist and take a core sample from the lake bed. Could you read what has happened in the environment here for the past several thousand years? [Slice off an end of the sandwich. Show them the cross section. Ask student to “read the rock record”]
(Can I please have that piece?)
“Does the process stop here? (no) Exactly. Sediments continue accumulating. [Pile several books on top of the sandwich.] As sediments continue to build up, what do the rocks at the bottom begin to experience? (pressure)
“Yes. [Climb on the table and step on the books that are on top of the sandwich. Smile broadly as the students object.]
(No, Mrs. Hislop! NO!! Don’t do it. DON’T DO IT!!!! Nooooooooooooooooooooooo!)
[Take the books off. Hold up the flatten sandwich.]
“This rock has been changed by pressure, maybe even a little heat. What rock type is it now? (metamorphic)
[Slice a small section from the sandwich and show how the cross section has changed]
“Has the rock been changed? (yes) Are the ingredients in the rock (minerals it is made of) different? (no) So, what determines what type of rock it is? (what happens to it, the process)
“Now imagine that tremendous forces within the Earth uplift this section of rock, similar to what happened to the Colorado plateau a few million years ago. [Hold the smashed sandwich up.] What happens to rocks that are exposed to weather on the Earth’s surface? (weathering, erosion, compaction, cementation)
“Exactly.” [Crumble the pieces of the smashed sandwich and let them drop onto the desk top. Gently pat the crumbled pieces so that they stick together and then hold the messy conglomerate of sticky sandwich pieces up for the class to see.]
“What type of rock is it now?” (sedimentary)
“Who would like to eat it now?”
OH the fun! FUN, FUN, FUN!
We also played the rock cycle game wherein students spend 10 minutes rolling dice and going from place to place in the room as instructed by the directions on the dice: Go to melting, Go to weathering and erosion, Stay put, Go to heat and pressure, etc…..
“How do we know when we win?” they ask. And “When is it over?”. The game is great because it parallels the rock cycle in many ways—no beginning and no end, any rock can become another type of rock, there is no specific path through the rock cycle, you could be stuck in one place (buried deep beneath the Earth’s surface or as sand on a seashore) for a long time—and because it gets the kids up and active. FUN, FUN, and more FUN!
I also had fun during remediation time the last hour of the day.
Ted: “Can I take my notebook home?”
Ted: “I promise to bring it back.”
Me: “And what happens if you don’t?”
Ted: “You can give me a detention.”
Me: “No way.”
Ted: “Really. You can give me a detention.”
Me: “No way. NO WAY. Detention does not work for you.”
Ted: “I have 18 detentions. It would be number 19 for me.”
Me: “Exactly. You can beg me. You can bribe me. You can get on your hands and knees and kiss my feet but I will not give you a detention. There is no way I am going to give you a detention. Give up now. It simply is not going to happen. I will not give you a detention.”
[Kenny was drawing instead of working on his notebook. I instructed him to put his drawings away and begin working on his notebook but he chose to continue drawing, busily sketching in pencil and then using an eraser to create the smudged, shaded effect he desired.]
Kenny: “Do you have an eraser?”
…I move on to another students and several moments pass….
Kenny calls across the room: “Do you have an eraser?”
I respond: “Yes”
….more time passes as I help other students….
Kenny, exasperated: “I asked you if you have an eraser….”
Me: “And I said yes.”
Kenny: “Where is it then?”
Me: “You asked if I have one and I do but I am not going to give it to you. You need to be working on your notebook, not drawing.”
Oh teaching is fun. FUN!
Have I mentioned recently that I love my job?
And, today, I really, REALLY love the fact that I will not be returning to my job for over a week. I am thankful for Thanksgiving Break, I am thankful for the family that I eagerly anticipate spending time with over Thanksgiving Break, and I am incredibly thankful to my God who has given me so many things for which to be thankful.