pandemo (pandemo) wrote,

In Service Survival Guide, or Your Taxes At Play

In-service day was on reading. We got divided into groups of four (by the moderator) and to fill in for a teacher/teacher's daughter pair whose husband/father was in intensive care with a tumor on the brain, the principal joined our group of four.

We got the new band man, who is slightly hard of hearing and in his 70's, a "spotholder" until March when the REAL band man will graduate and come down, the art teacher (one of my long time favorite people in the area -- a former missionary whose 10 children were born all over the world -- #5, the first one I had, was a child in Peru when her brother was born. She'd lived in Turkey and Italy, and sort of spoke English. I had her in Spanish, and noticed she'd get on the right page at once there, so began giving English class directions in Spanish, too, for a bit. She was highly verbal and became a translator after dropping out of college.) The art teacher is a charismatic preacher, (Style of presentation, not branch of religion he practices...) and when he gets wound up, out comes rants that are couched in pure poetry... Highly olfactory, creative to the max, offbeat, and just a kick to have on a dry day.

We were to each read a part of a long article, then report it to our group. As a follow-up, we had to use one of the reading techniques we were reviewing, and the moderator who had selected the groups decided I should be the presenter for ours, even though usually that is left up to the group.

After the stupendous pot luck lunch, we were less than motivated to dive back in. We had a blank sheet of paper each, with our initials in the upper left corner. We were to take time to write on the topic we'd reported to our group for one minute, then pass the papers to the left. The art man was on the left, the band man on the right, and the principal facing me... So I get a sheet on MILITARY BASIC TRAINING and its importance to our society from the band man. (?? He's slightly deaf, so I'm not sure he understood the basic idea.) I was supposed to relate to it/the topic for a minute and pass it on. Jim got my one sentence one minute writing. It was a complete summary of what we'd done all day, not just what we'd read.

Our presentation earlier was on the GIST strategy. Picking out a selection of text that 1) has content that is important for the subject under discussion in different classrooms, 2) is three to five sentences long, with a topic sentence, and 3) contains content ideas that students can benefit from contemplating closely, teachers then let a student read the first sentence to the class.

The task is to summarize the ideas in the sentence in 15 words or less, the kid's own words. They are NOT looking at the sentence, but working from memory. They may request to see the original again, but then they have to start their 15 words over again...

So, the bottom of the sheet has five columns of blanks, each three deep, making the 15 spaces to put the words. They may erase freely. The teacher does the stuff on an overhead/board with the class supplying the words at first. The GROUP, not the teacher, decides when they have their final version...

So. I'm presenting what my group picked, a piece about PRAIRIE DOGS. In the first sentence, cattlemen are angry at prairie dogs because they are highly visible.... (I'll post the exact thing when I'm back at school...) They think the range is going bad and running out because of the prairie dog infestations. Now, we do research to decide things like that and prairie dogs turn out to be a keystone species, but all that is not in the part we pick to present.

Some of the teachers emulate our worst nightmare students. What if they won't decide to be done. I say that in real life, they are all too willing to quit and be satisfied long before they are really there. That doesn't satisfy, so I pass it off to the moderator. We get four or five versions before the group signs off on it, and I add the SECOND sentence of the three I am assigned to present. Now they have to take the meat out of both sentences together, but still only have the same 15 words. They're really into it now, and I erase more than I write. The third sentence goes up and each group has to put all three into 15 pearls of wisdom on the subject of ranchers and prairie dogs...

END Flashback
That resulted in my one minute creation, which I DID NOT count, but could have been maybe, 20 words... definitely NOT a long, rambling sprawl, which with me is a sure sign of not much thought, just writing on the fly.

I passed that little gem to Jim (the artist), receiving the military one from the band man. He was probably thinking about marching bands... who knows? Now, WE WEREN'T SUPPOSED TO TALK when we passed stuff. We got to giggling, instead. We got so into what was being passed (not all of it off topic) that we got the giggles. (YES, we sat with the principal and giggled... him, too, although he did quit before we did -- and he talked, too, which we did not.) When he got my paper, he broke up. Then he got the band man's paper and broke up again.

Our group was driving the moderator crazy. She kept trying to read what had been written... finally deciding she was going to collect the papers after the exercise. The entire faculty then had to post one of their creations. We had Reading is Thinking (the first part of my sentence, too, so I eliminated it when I put it on the board) Prior experience plays an important part in the reading process, another very short expression that escapes me at present, but will pop back into my head when I see the topic they were on, and Jim's priceless comment under the music man's rave on the value of phonics.

In one of the moderator's passes, I told her, between giggles, that the last time I was paired with a band man and a poet, we wrote a song, and by the end of the year, the music man had arranged it for SATB choir...

When I got the phonics comment, I went into my "Spanish" mode. I confessed to being a terrible speller, as phonics does NOT work for me. I was relieved to find a vowel system that only had three versions of the long I sound, and whose other letters did predictable things, instead of English's 40 vowel sounds for the same 5 vowels, and sometimes Y...

Cow, bow, how, row, etc. are not all homonyms. Bough, cough, enough, tough, etc. likewise. So I wrote a funny sentence where the tough Indian took a bow after shooting the bough enough with his bow and arrow to break the dead branch off, then he rowed across the lake to participate in a row between his tribe, coughing enough in the dust stirred up by the horses to wake the dead, and the cavalry... It went on and on, and it was FUNNY. A beginning-phonics trained reader would NEVER make it through it with understanding.

Jim added in clumsy lettering a la lower elementary writers: EYE 2 M HuKT on FONIX

I put up the overall summary, complete with a misspelling...

We did NOT offer to sing it.

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