Minute to Win It

Part of our end of year fun was a grade-level attempt to recreate the gameshow "Minute to Win It." We have 6 classrooms, so we picked 6 of the show's many activities. My room was the site of the "Junk in the Trunk" contest - where you strap an empty tissue box with 8 ping pong balls on your lower back. Without using your hands, you have to shake and jump those 8 balls out of the box in less than a minute.

Repeat 120 times.

The students were creative in ways you can't imagine - trying to get those balls out of that tissue box in any way possible. Some were a little shy about looking like a fool in front of their peers, but most just shook it out. It was hilarious to watch them - and I had giggles for at least most of the first 50. I tried to keep up my enthusiasm, which was definitely a challenge after watching so many... I also tried to keep my mouth shut about ways that worked so well for people before them - I wanted them to have the chance to figure out the road to success on their own.

I had this one student whose body just didn't seem to get the memo. His head was shaking furiously, but not one part of his body was moving. We were all cheering him on, in hopes that our cheers would ignite movement in the parts of this body that would help complete the task. No luck.

I had another student who didn't want to look silly, so he tried to bend backwards (without using his hands, if you can imagine). I was truly impressed by his flexibility and balance as he bent further and further back. Until he collapsed on the box and all 8 balls inside. Good thing I had extra.

These are the moments that I love to share with them at the end of the year.

The giggling moments.


Walking a Cat

When I was younger I had this cat that I just adored. He was so cool. His name was Marbles because of his appearance, but ever since that "fat cat" phase we called him Bubba. Well, Bubba was an outdoor cat with full freedom to roam the neighborhood. In fact, he'd lay in the middle of the street. I remember hearing the neighbors yell "Bubba get out of the road!" as they would slowly drive around him. Well, it was my bright idea, that even though Bubba could walk outside as he pleased, that I should walk him. Yes. I should get a leash with a full harness, strap it all on him, and prance him up and down the sidewalk. The same sidewalk that he already walked, independently.

Well, I don't know if you've ever tried to put a cat on a leash before - but it was wild. Bubba bucked like a ticked off horse, hissed at the slightest touch of the harness. I carried him outside, all harnessed up, and when I put him on the sidewalk it looked as though all of his legs were broken. If a cat could tiptoe - he was definitely showing me how. He stood still for a moment, and then just went berserk - circling around and whipping his paws at the leash. I was sure that he was going to crawl up the thin red fabric between us. It wasn't natural. He wanted free and unharnessed and able to explore ... without the hinderance of my pesky leash.

This is a lot like the last weeks of school. Kids are free and playful and fun, and they can smell summer break like a bear can smell fear. Students have never been so keen to their surroundings as when they can sense the ripeness of the year fresh on their teachers' skin. They can sniff out the moment when their teacher is daydreaming and completely disrupt the rest of the day. So, I spend the last few weeks walking the cat. I try to harness their freedom that they know is SO CLOSE. They start to lose focus and restraint and good sense. So we strap on the harness and place them on the path.

What they don't know is that we're right there with them. We may be trying to keep them restrained for the little while we have left with them, but inside we are playing outside, daydreaming, and losing our own good sense.

Even with the pain of trying to keep them calm, this is my favorite time with the students. We laugh, have fun, and learn all without the pressure of testing. We can do experiments and we have time to explore things we aren't normally able to, due to curriculum restraints. It's a great way to end a year... seeing the students laughing and learning and having a great time. Definitely better than walking the cat.