Brad Pitt

I lost my plan for Russian 1 today. (Remembered too late that I was going to use the one we started about singing on the bus.) I looked up at the back board and realized I still haven’t glued up the list of about 15 words that I think are critical to keep repeating, so that was not helpful. Thought, “had, said, went.” Looked at Max, who was trying to hide behind his long hair. Asked the class his name. One kid said, “Brad Pitt!” Max became Brad Pitt with a problem. What was his problem? He has long hair. “Has” is a tough structure in Russian. We have to repeat it about a million times. He wants short hair, but he has long hair. So he goes to Trend Setters, where they refuse to cut it. Then he goes to Clip City, where his mom is working, and she loves his long hair and won’t cut it. Finally he goes to Mr. Lau, a gym teacher here, and Mr. Lau shaves his head, so of course he has a new problem. But the period was suddenly over, so we didn’t have to deal with that.

I channeled Ben for the shaving…didn’t use the word “shaved,” only a sound that the kid playing Mr. Lau supplied. It worked!

For tomorrow, we’re going to read this story and a couple of extensions with details that my next class is going to help me think of. They don’t know that yet.


2 responses to “Brad Pitt

  1. Isn’t it almost scary sometimes how the best lessons often turn out to be the ones that had the least amount of prep? I think that is the case for me because at those times I am focused on making the situation work–and am thus more responsive to the feedback the kids are giving me–than simply executing a point-by-point plan. When you were working with Brad Pitt and Mr. Lau, your students were with you in a way that no pre-set plan could have gotten.

    I lucked into one of those today with my 7th grade exploratory class where we were working on “is afraid of, screams, runs away.” We were PQAing the terms when I recognized that the energy was totally gone and just dragging, so on a whim I grabbed one of our class mascots (a fish) and some puppets that I suddenly remembered were sitting in my back closet. Suddenly the fish was afraid of Mr. Wettrau (a science teacher who a puppet really did look like) who somehow morphed into a shark and was chasing the fish around the lake. We practiced as a class how it would sound to scream underwater, and just had a marvelous time.

    I love the idea of substituting a sound for a tricky verb: I think I’ll find a way to work that in tomorrow.


  2. I love the underwater screaming…

    It is true about the least prep. I think it’s sometimes because my brain is actually ready, but comes up with a better way to do the same thing.

    I was amazed by the depth to which the next class went as they helped me come up with more details to do a story extension. It was fun. It occurred to me that it was perfect to have the upper-level class telling the details for the lower level. For them, the lower-level’s story was totally comprehensible, and they didn’t need to concentrate on meaning, just how to make it more interesting. Even the “bored” kids were helping extend it. I was typing as fast as I could.


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