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When I Wasn’t Looking

While I was on my way to work on Friday, I called my friend, Barb, to find out how a conversation she’d had with one of my students the day before had gone. 

After we addressed that issue, she mentioned that our media specialist had gotten very ill and wouldn’t be at school that day.  Unfortunately, it was the last day of our book fair, and Barbara, who had been helping her out, had a meeting she had to attend.

Now, first of all, you might be thinking…book fairhigh school?

Yep.

We have a wonderful librarian who hosted a book fair last year, and it was a HUGE hit!  She decided to do it again!

Most of our kids haven’t seen a book fair since elementary school, so they’re especially appreciative.

One of our assistant principals was going to step in and help, Barb said.

I told her that if she needed me, I could take my classes to the library and let them do their work there.  I’d planned on having them read an excerpt of the Constitution, answer reading comprehension questions about it, and work on a writing rubric we were finishing up.

She said she’d call if she needed me.

Not one minute after I entered my classroom, my phone rang.

It was an SOS call.

I grabbed my attendance roster, reading comprehension worksheets, and everything else I thought I might need and headed out, taping a note to my door to let students know that class had temporarily been relocated.  Thank goodness I have first period planning, because I was able to get a quick tutorial on how to use the cash register.

Oh yeah.

You read that right.

Cash.

Register.

As in electronic gadget.

Uh huh.

Oh, and I haven’t mentioned the scanner thing.

This was going to be fun, I could already tell.

You know how much I love electronics!

The first batch of students came to purchase books, and I sailed through with a minimum of questions.  There was a lovely lady from the cafeteria who had been reassigned to the book fair so she could recover from a hurt back.

By the time my students arrived for second period, I was comfortable.

I sat them at a table behind the shelving and explained why we were there that day.  As I passed out the worksheets, I told them the grade would be going in the gradebook, so it would behoove them (yes, I defined “behoove” for them) to work together.  There were three short-answer questions that they were not allowed to copy.

After thirty minutes, I gave a student the answer sheet so they could review and correct their answers.

Now, one never knows what he/she is going to get when placed in a similar situation.

My students could have run amook.

Good thing they didn’t.  I’m a fierce mama and quick with the consequences.

Did I mention that it was Valentine’s Day?  That’s one of the craziest days at school with kids all lovied up and candied up.

Ugh.

Well, my precious students behaved themselves, answered those questions, and sat quietly the rest of the time.  Another teacher had commandeered the rest of the library, so we didn’t have a lot of wiggle room.

My second class came in, and we repeated the routine.

This is when something magical happened.

I didn’t have any book-buying customers, so I could hear my students.  They weren’t being loud, but the library was quiet.  The other teacher wasn’t there that period.

I overheard one of my students say, “Well, I answered #4 this way because…”

Then, another student said, “Well, I answered this way because…”

Hola, people!  This is called student-centered learning!  My students were taking charge and justifying their answers!!!!

This is a teacher’s dream!!!!

I was so proud and will surprise them with donuts as a reward.

For the second part of class, I put them on the library’s computers and had them work through assignments I’d given them on a free website NoRedInk.  If you’re a teacher and don’t know about this, RUN to it and sign up.  It is the most fabulous website that teaches grammar!!! 

Did I mention that it’s FREE?

I’d pay for it, that’s how good it is.

Students customize their account by selecting favorite celebrities, singers, etc., and the website weaves their interests into the questions.

Students are given remedial help and extra practice questions to help them learn the concept being taught.

As a teacher, I can run a report that shows me trouble areas as well as how many times a student attempted a question.

I am awarding bonus points for the work my students completed on this site.

Yes, the activity was kind of a fill-in, but it was something I’d wanted to show them for a long time, so Friday was the perfect opportunity!

I can’t tell you how proud I am of my students.  Even though my last period class wasn’t quite as well-behaved as the first two classes, it was the end of a day…the end of a long week…the end of a holiday.  I had to cut them some slack.

My students behaved in a way that represented months of training.  They showed well, and I couldn’t have been happier!

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