Saturday, March 22, 2014

Pigasus, Pasta, Pennies, and Student Strategy

We hate cancer.  We love competition.

So we love The Olive Garden's Pasta for Pennies competition at our school. The period 1 classroom that brings in the most money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society wins an Olive Garden lunch.
Money goes to research to get rid of this horrible disease
While I have huge reservations about "giving to get" charitable drives, there is no denying that the competition makes it far more about winning than eating. Hm, is that much better? OK, then, there is no denying that the drive to win makes for some wonderful team building.

Our class leaps ahead of Mrs G's class by $40 on the first day. I mention that if each kid in class brings in $10, we'd have $360 (stupid California class sizes); I remind them that I pitch in, too. The kids whine that Mrs W's class always wins. I point to the two first place pennants from The Olive Garden hanging by the door. "By 'always wins' do you mean 'always comes in second to Miss M's class?' " The kids perk up.

That afternoon, our collection box returns from the money counters in ASB decorated as a pig, er, Pegasus, er, Pigasus with a unicorn horn:
AB, NT, and RT show off their amazing creation
So the race is on. Mrs G, a new teacher, gains the lead. My students decide the way to win is to withhold some of the money we bring in; they decide to put only one third of the donations into Pigasus and the rest into this special jar my daddy had bought for me:
I don't keep this on display. But it came in handy for this activity.
We watch as Mrs W takes the lead; the class groans--they had her in 6th grade and know she has very persuasive techniques to make sure kids bring in money! Some kids in another class contribute to Pigasus. We learn that Mrs G's class has a hidden stash too, and our "spies" press in to discover the estimated amount. Some other classes find out about our hidden stash, but do not seem to know how much we have. At some point, the ASB box decorators make Pigasus's nose 3D. (I have no photographic proof....but trust me, it's a thing of beauty.)

The jar is too small to hold all of our rolled coin, loose change, and bills, so we hide the rolled coin and bills in a project on display, a project shaped like a bald eagle; it feels patriotic somehow. The students vote to stop putting more than five or so dollars daily into Pigasus and hoard almost all of it for Friday, turn in day.

Friday, yesterday--Pigasus is almost full. His top won't close properly. His legs buckle. He is taken to the ASB to have his innards counted.

After lunch, five ASB kids--all my first period students--come in. "We have good news and bad news!" N says sadly (but with dancing eyes and a persistent grin), "The pig's legs didn't make it....but the pig did! We won by $200!" It's actually kind of a pain for me, because I have to race out to La Mesa during my prep period and then deal with my fourth period kids drooling over bread sticks they can't have, but Mrs W has offered to help me serve, and frankly, my period 1 kids are so delightful that I absolutely look forward to lunch with them all.

The formal announcement is made over the intercom, period 7, right before the end of school. My period 7 graciously cheers and whoops as if it were they who had won. That's what I love about our school--we are good sports, and in the end, the more we raise, the more research we fund. That's a win-win in my book.

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