Wednesday, May 1, 2013

If You're Happy And You Know It

I had more fun this afternoon than I've had in quite a while.  The morning wasn't half bad either, but I definitely laughed more as the day wore on.  

After recess, I received several bunches of dandelions with notes attached from students.... so sweet!  I had watched them out my window running from clump to clump of yellow weeds, collecting them and laughing.  Somehow dandelions always seem so special when you get them from a little one.  Our weekly Wednesday VT meeting was held outside at our school's outdoor classroom area, a pretty cove of stone benches.  It was, after all, a beautiful, sunny day, so any chance to get outside and enjoy some of the weather is always a plus.   We reviewed some curriculum, bounced some ideas off one another, and planned out an upcoming unit on force and motion.  It was much better in the open air!

When I picked up my class from music after the meeting, two little ones hugged me and told me they missed me.   Give me an "awwwwwww".  Really?   They missed me and they were only in music for twenty-five minutes.      Sometimes it really is the little things that can make your whole day.  

Next on the schedule was joining another third grade class for a presentation by a fellow teacher friend/entrepreneur to help the little ones gain more insight into the complicated world of economics.  The presenter is our building VT coordinator who started a company called Sticky Bellies Click here for website.  She designs and sells really cute stickers to use for baby pictures and pregnant women - a terrific baby gift!

Anyway, there we were, forty-three eight and nine year olds sitting on the floor, two teachers sitting strategically in chairs watching them, and one presenter engaging us all by telling her story of how she got an idea for a product and started her own company.  She was using all the economic vocabulary words, connecting them into her discussion, and even played a game with the kids called "Entrepreneur or Not Entrepreneur", which the kids loved.     About fifteen minutes into the presentation, the limit for my class to sit still, they became a moving wave of bodies.  Squatting, tapping their foot, intertwining fingers, stretching, rocking, and generally just moving.   

As one little darling's comment began to veer off topic with no end in sight, I caught sight of the other third grade teacher saying "cut him off" as she mimed with her hand across her neck.  For some reason, this hit me as incredibly funny and I couldn't suppress my giggles.  Naturally, this caught the attention of the kids around me, since I had been shushing them for their minor infractions.  Now here I was laughing and the more I tried to stop, the more I laughed.  I couldn't make eye contact with the other teacher and tried to focus on the design of the carpet.  I got ahold of myself and cleared my throat in a very serious manner to indicate to the kids that I was back to my usual self.  

Near the end of the presentation it was "Any questions?" time, always a favorite for any kid. It's their turn to talk and they are not going to let that pass.   As soon as the words, "Any questions?" is uttered, the kids that have paid absolutely no attention are the first ones with their hands in the air.  It seems they take it way too literally and truly do ask any question. Experience shows that they will always ask a question that has nothing to do with the topic.  In fact, the more energy put into the waving of the hand, the more outlandish and off topic the question.  

Luckily, the presenter has also spent many years in the classroom as a teacher, so she's good at reading the expressions of the hand wavers to pick out one that just might have a relevant question.   There were several great questions about shipping items, warehouses, and the price of her stickers.  One boy asked her how much she makes weekly, which sounded like how much do you make legally, which resumed my giggles.  Then one student asked her which direction the boat traveled from China to get to the United States.  Did they travel the east route or west?  That got several tilting their heads in thought, trying to visualize a world map, and even the presenter didn't know that answer so she promised to get back to him next week.  One of my students was called on next and he asked if any of the ships had been lost in The Bermuda Triangle.  Huh?  Several heads shook and turned to the presenter to await her answer.  Another student asked how many stickers did she lose that were on ships in The Bermuda Triangle.  Double huh? By this time, I had made eye contact with the 3rd grade teacher and that didn't help me stop laughing.  One of my little girls scooted over next to me and wrapped her arms around my leg, looked up and me, and smiled.  I'm pretty sure it had something to do with hearing about this Bermuda Triangle and disappearing ships and stickers she had just heard about.

This seemed like a good time to wrap up the presentation and the students were rewarded with ten minutes outside after sitting still for about forty minutes.  That gave the kids time to run around for a few minutes and me and the other third grade teacher time to laugh about how amusing it is to listen to kids asking questions and hearing their thinking.  

In the world of economics and the mind of a third grader, things can get confusing and complicated. It's hard enough for them to pronounce entrepreneur and scarcity, let alone make a connection to their kid world.  But our presenter today did a fabulous job of getting the kids excited about it all. 

If they can tell me what an incentive is tomorrow, they're going to get one.



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