Friday, September 25, 2009

baby owls tipping left and atlas rally caps

Whoa, you think as you read the title. Has the deadly hot bungalow damaged Lola's brain?

Nope, it is just the new reality of teaching seminar kids (SKs, if you will). SKs are the top one percent of gifted kids. That still doesn't explain the title unless you are an SK yourself or are the teacher or parent of one.

So for history review, we are playing a game-show type game with the left side of the class competing against the right side. I call them Lefties and Righties, and immediately the Lefties make Ls out of their forefingers and thumbs and stick it on their foreheads. One kid is bouncing back and forth, and I remark, "So you are an equal opportunity bouncer?" "Oh no," says the kid, and immediately tips only to the left. The kids with Ls to their foreheads incorporate the tipping left. They cheer for their teammates with a gentle "whoo whoo" and when I say they sound like baby owls, they tip faster and increase the intensity of their whoo whoo-ing.

The game is close and the kids are competitive. The Righties are annoyed by the Lefties' unity and by their strange but compelling cheer. They are even more annoyed when the Lefties take an early lead and hold it almost the whole period. But in the last minutes of class, M ties the score, having defeated several Lefties in a row. B yells, "Righty Rally!" and grabs an atlas, opening it up and wearing it on his head. "Rally cap! Rally cap!" chant the Righties, and now there is a sea of atlas rally caps on the right side of the room. Up walks BC to challenge M; he is a Lefty powerhouse and the chanting and whoo whooing and tipping crescendo--whomever wins the next point wins the game. "It's the FI-NAL COUNT-DOWWWN!" shrieks a child, tipping maniacally, and the whole class starts singing this song. "How do you all know this song?" I query. "It's by Europe and it's from a commercial!" "Wow, sounds cool." One Lefty stops tipping long enough to say, "I have it on my iPod. We could play it while M and BC face off." Cognizant that this is wasting an instructional minute but realizing that bonding moments in teaching must be grasped like the brass rings that they are, I let him pop it in my brand new iPod compatible boom box (thanks, Best Buy), and now every kid is quivering with excitement and singing heartily to the throbbing beat.

And right as M wins the match, the bell rings. Perfect timing, perfect day: baby owls tipping left and atlas rally caps.

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