Saturday, February 19, 2011

Angry Birds and Rock Stars~

Today was the 100th Day of School, a tradition that grew out of the more child-friendly educational practices of the 1980s. In fact, word on the street has it that a group of young child educators wants to make the 100th Day of School a national holiday. Except that nobody would come to school, which would create a problem.

Some our young learners created 100 Day Projects by using 100 objects in a creative way. Owen was a celebrity for a few minutes when he came to class with a battlefield glued down on tag board - complete with army tanks and 100 little plastic soldiers he counted himself. Zach used 100 Legos to create a facsimile of the space shuttle. He explained that he chose this project in honor of the space shuttle going up into space again soon. His classmates were very impressed. There were projects with 100 pennies, 100 stickers, and 100 Swedish fish in a painted fish pond. (Several kids were caught licking the fish. But I digress.)

Nobody was surprised when Beny decided to draw 100 pigs from the Angry Birds game. To say Beny likes Angry Birds is an understatement. Angry Birds define his world at the moment. His project is an instant hit: The kids abandon the other projects and surround Beny with cries of admiration. He is the center of attention and laps it up like a parched puppy. The kids point and make "ooh" and "ahh" noises. They pelt Beny questions and he holds up his hand and tells them he will take only one question at a time. In order to secure the project from admiring fingers, Beny asks me to put it up on the board. I clip it up there with a magnetic clip and admirers stop by all day to gaze at Beny's masterpiece.

At 11:30, Beny and Sam's mother arrives with Sam's drum set. While Beny was busily creating his Angry Bird Magnum Opus during evenings at home, Sam became a Facebook media star, performing a song he wrote tentatively called, "I Love to Count!" Using rhythm and interlude, snare drum and cymbals, Sammy pounded out his rendition of the classroom hundreds chart, complete with a chorus and earnest vocals about the joy of counting. In the video, Beny wears a mysterious hat and sits behind Sam quietly playing the keyboards. At one point, he gets up.

"Make sure you stop at 100," Beny advised Sam once the musician hit 50. The drummer agreed and Beny resumed his role as keyboardist.

So, the arrival of the drum set was not surprising. The K-1 class was promised an encore performance of Sam's famous, "Ode to 100: I Love to Count."

You might wonder why a teacher in her right mind would allow a 5-year old to bang away on drums with a full school in session. You might think that meeting Sammy's needs as a learner and showcasing his talents were the main objectives. You would be correct, of course, but there is just one little thing that appealed to the evil self that lives inside me.

You see, banging the drums would make noise. All day long,everyday, throughout the day and longer, we are subjected to the pitter patter of pounding feet as the children of the school descend and ascend the school stairs. Our classroom is right underneath and slightly adjacent to these stairs. Kids on stairs don't quietly walk. They pound. They run. The hit the hallways running before and after they hit the stairs. Our ceiling shakes. Our bulletin boards rattle. Our nerves tingle.

"Ode to 100: I Love to Count" was loud. The kids loved it and clapped along. Sam hit the cymbols and bass drum during the chorus. Those were especially loud. It was rhythmic. It was a HUGE hit. Move over, Beny - Sammy has just taken down the house.

The kids applauded wildly. They waved their hands at Sam the Drummer. They asked for his autograph and begged for "turns" at the drum. Sam complied with both.

After the drums were packed up and the students went home, Jenny and I fully expected to hear from our upstairs colleagues about the drum interlude. We steeled ourselves for glares and admonitions - but they never came because NOBODY heard us.

The pounding on the stairs and in the upstairs hallways drowned us out.


Sara is one of my younger students who stays all day twice a week. This means she gets to participate in first grade work quite often. On Thursday, we continued work on our Classroom Model Community project. Each first grader has selected a community leader or helper to represent. They are creating buildings for the community out of boxes and toilet paper rolls and anything else that captures their imaginations.

Zada is going to build an animal rescue center. She printed copies of such places off the internet and decided she likes a center up north that lacks kennels and cages. Sara offered to help Zada paint the buildings.

Young children love paint, glitter, glue, and other craft supplies. The underlying motto for all kindergarten projects is "More is Better." If a little glitter works, why not more? If a bit of paint covers the targeted area, why not glop the paint on for that tactile, more textured effect?

So Sara began "experiencing" Zada's red paint. As Zada worked on a small out-building for her rescue center, Sara tackled a larger box and painted it red. Disappointed that Zada didn't need her to cover other buildings red, Sara added more red to the painted box. Seeing that the paintbrush was quickly overhwhelmed by the volume of paint, Sara began fingerpainting the box. Soon, red paint covered her hands, dripped from her fingers, and began making its way up her lily-white arms.

Zada was a bit perplexed. She is a conservative girl with paint and supplies and could see nothing good happening from this very wet, very red, and very drippy experience with her younger helper. She backed up and kept working on her little building.

Jenny and I quickly discovered the finger-painter and did the old 'crossing of the arms' and 'hands on the hips' routine. Sara is not one to quickly admit to any kind of wrongdoing. She is, in fact, in the fast-lane to law school. So she opens her mouth to defend her actions - which weren't really as bad as our teacherly body language would indicate. In fact, she was ready to claim that she was out of town while the paint began covering her hands and arms. We know this because we know our Sara.

While I shook my head, Jenny leaned forward with her hands on the table. Zada looked up. "No Sara," my partner teacher intoned quietly, "We caught you red-handed!"