Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Smile Gram

Today my class and I began our first school positivity project for the year a.k.a. "C.A.K.E."  Anyone in the education field knows you must have an acronym for everything you do, so I'm following suit.  So, I introduced the acronym to my class this morning and asked them if they could guess what it might represent.  We had already talked about trying to make our classroom and school more positive/happier this year by performing random acts of kindness (R.A.K.)   After a lengthy discussion on what the word random means (that's tougher than you might think)  as well as ways to show kindness, we were ready.  

Students were anxious to guess. As expected student guesses ranged from cool to California (yes, really) for the C, which in fact stands for "Classroom".   Most of the additional letter guesses were either misspelled or way off target, so I began writing it on the board.  

C.A.K.E.  =  Classroom Acts of Kindness Every Month.  

"But shouldn't that be C.A.K.E.M.?" one bright student corrected.  And then everyone in the room practiced saying that out loud until I interjected. 

"Well, technically you're right, of course," I said.  "But doesn't CAKE sound more fun than CAKEM?"

Our first C.A.K.E. was making little "Smile Grams" for a classroom of students.  Naturally, I chose my BFF's classroom for our first little positivity attempt. Besides her being my BFF, it's a class of little first graders and I was sure they would be quite happy with our little paper gifts. 

I showed the students an index card cut in half and displayed my sample.   The white side of the card declared in bright marker:  SMILE GRAM.  On the back I printed:  Have a wonderful day!  How could you be more positive than that?  I instructed the students to think of short, fun, positive words to write on their Smile Gram.  They were anxious and eager to get started.  "Any questions?" I asked.  Nope.  They were excited to start and that combined with the very limited amount of time they were given kick-started them into action.  

After several minutes I heard a student ask another student, "Who's this Gram anyway?"
(insert chuckle)
In a teacher's world, this is commonly referred to as a miscue.  Although I thought I had covered every part of the activity, I never even thought to explain 'gram' as being like a telegram. And then I thought to myself, they wouldn't even know what I was talking about if I said telegram.  

"Does anyone know what a telegram is?" I questioned.  Twenty-two perplexed little faces looked at me.  They were stumped. Hmmmmm.....   "Well, it's kind of like a message or a short letter.. but sent with electronic signals.. that.. " I continued.  Now, I'm old, but even I don't really know much about the telegraph machine.  

"Oh! So you mean it's an email!" screeched one excited little one.

"No! She means it's like a text!" corrected another tech savvy student.

"Well, not really.  It's more like a FAX, maybe," I explained. 

"A what??" asked three or four students.  

"A FAX.  You know.  It stands for facsimile, which means making a copy of something and you send it through a special machine/copier and it converts it to a special code and then it travels through the telephone wire.. and..."  a couple of beads of sweat popped onto my forehead.   By now a good percentage of the class had tuned out and were coloring their paper projects and probably figured I was just rambling.  And I was.
I ended with, "If anyone wants to talk more about the telegraph or FAX machine come and see me and we can find some information to answer your questions."

Silence, but for the sounds of pencils coloring. 

"Let's finish up," I instructed.  "Remember, we are just writing little notes to surprise students and help make their day brighter!"   Geez.  I could have saved myself a lot of time and explaining had I just said all that in the first place.   

At recess time, when the little first graders were away from their room, some students and I delivered the Smile Grams to the desks of our unsuspecting targets.  No word yet on the reaction of the students.  We were only hoping for some smiles, so hopefully it worked.   

Two things struck me today as I reflected on the day.

A: I'm getting really old and now remember things that nobody under the age of 40 knows.

B: Technology is moving at lightning speed and changes so quickly that things from even ten years ago are already replaced and out of date.

I think I'll look on the positive side and go with B.  


  1. Hilarious about the grams! And the Faxes! I told my kids that someday their kids are going to ask them what was an iPad and how that technology will seem so quaint to them. They didn't believe it. Madeline

  2. Do kids really know what a 'telephone' is? It's all cell phones, or smart phones now - no one says telephone anymore. Too funny! AND, you are NOT old - just perfectly seasoned!

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