09 April 2009

Zoo Day Tuesday

Jason loves to make animal noises, and he's really good at it. The problem is that animal noises and World History don't get along well. Jason never interrupts me, and always listens intently to directions, but as soon as the kids are supposed to be working independently animal noises abound. This drives me crazy. I try working with my students to the sporadic accompaniment of a braying donkey, or a bleating sheep, or a squawking chicken, but I find it rather exasperating. Maybe animal noises and World History get along just fine; it's probably animal noises and the Colorado Red Head that don't play well together.

I was helping a student proofread a brilliantly written paragraph about how British Imperialism led to World War I when I was suddenly interrupted by a rather loud and convincing velociraptor call. And it was quite compelling. If I didn't already know that dinosaurs are extinct I probably would have jumped under the student’s desk to avoid the impending attack. Fortunately I am fully aware of the current lack of living dinosaurs on the planet, and knew that the noise was simply coming from Jason on the other side of the room. I decided it was time for decisive action.

Daily requests for the cessation of animal noises were clearly the less-effective approach. I decided that if I gave him a specific time where he was allowed to make animal noises, he might stop making them at random intervals: “Jason, next Tuesday we will have a zoo day. You can come in that day and make all the animal noises you want. But until then I don’t want to hear a single animal noise from you.”

He got really excited about Zoo Day, but didn’t quite believe me at first.

Jason: I can make any animal noises I want?

Red Head: Next Tuesday you can make any noises you want. And I want to hear an elephant, a horse, and a giraffe. But until then I don’t want to hear anything.

Jason: But miss, what does a giraffe sound like?

Red Head: You have until next Tuesday to figure it out.

Zoo Day arrived, and as soon as the bell rang Jason triumphantly bellowed out the sound of an elephant and a horse. Then very seriously he said, “Miss, I’ve been watching the discovery channel, and giraffes don’t make noise. They just chomp. Like this.” Then he opened his mouth as wide as it would go, took a large bite of some imaginary foliage, and started chewing. He continued chomping throughout class. One of the administrators walked in to observe my class for my yearly evaluation. She noticed Jason sitting in the front row cheerfully chewing on air, and gave him an odd look. I decided to clarify, “Jason is being a giraffe today.” She gave me an odd look. I offered no further explanation

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