Thursday, October 20, 2016

Short Stories from a Middle School Teacher: Batman 2016

Batman 2016!

The school was positively buzzing with anticipation during the 2008 presidential election. Our 8th graders were particularly interested in the election because they were learning about how voting is a civic responsibility. Jensen decided that having the kids participate in a school based election for the president would be a great teaching tool (also, I think he wanted to put it on he resume that he helped run a presidential campaign).

Somehow this small classroom vote turned into a school wide election. Jensen bought 1,000 “I voted” stickers, created ballots, and worked out a whole system to help all the students in school have a hands on experience with the election. We turned his classroom into campaign headquarters. We had live feeds of the election from various new networks playing on mobile carts; we had students collecting and sorting ballots, and we had the students writing about why this election was so historic (either the first African American president or the first female vice president).

As we were working on tallying the votes students kept asking me who I voted for, which I refused to tell them because I didn’t feel it was my place to sway impressionable young minds (I prefer to use my power of persuasion for evil rather than good). The question they posed for me was always the same, “Ms. Potter did you vote for Rock Obama or John McClain? You should vote for Rock Obama.” I just thought to myself each of the 67 Times I heard this, “I am just glad that the majority of my students are going to commit felonies before they have the chance to vote.” I don’t know about you but I don’t want who runs my country decided by people who don’t even know the candidates names.

There was a little bit glimmer of hope that day though. As we were tallying the votes Price and I noticed a growing trend. Of the 849 ballots received we received 49 write in votes for Batman. I think that I could get on board for this in the 2012 election. He is well known, trustworthy, snazzy dresser, and has an easy to pronounce name.

Batman 2016
First Superhero in the White House!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Short Stories from a Middle School Teacher: A Modest Proposal

A Modest Proposal
Every year I like to introduce my students to persuasive writing through an Oregon Trail assignment. It is generally my students’ favorite activity of the year which is a plus. We start by reading a piece of historical fiction that explains what the Oregon Trail is and details the hardships of the journey. I then have students create their own wagon parties within the classroom. They then have to research and decide what would be the absolutely essential supplies for the trip and how much money they would need for the trip. The final step is the students have to write a letter to Potter’s Old Time Banking explaining why they need a loan hand then persuading me to loan them the money for the trip.

Some excerpts from my students’ most humorous persuasive letters over the years:

When I get out west I will search the lands for the prettiest tree in the wild. I will then send it back to you and you can display it in your bank. All the other smith will be jealous.

If you don’t loan me the money I will go to all the other people in town and tell them not to use your bank. Giving me a loan is your best bet for staying in business.

Give me the money, or else.

If you don’t loan me the money I might have to eat my family on the journey, and I don’t want to do that.

When the students turn their projects in I printed out labels that either approved or rejected their loans.


:( So So Sorry! :(

Your loan has been denied.

You will have to eat a fellow traveler to survive.

:)Congratulations! :)

Potter’s Old Time Banking has approved your loan.

Good luck on the trail!

There is something about stickers that gets kids adrenaline pumping. I don’t know what it is but someone should do a scientific study on it.