Posted in ELA, English, Spelling

Chapter 51: Dunderheads

I’m an English teacher and an old copy editor. If I taught at Hogwarts, my Boggart — a shapeshifter that assumes the form of your deepest fear — would probably look a whole lot like a typo.

With that in mind, here is the email I received a couple of weeks ago:

 

As Professor Lupin would say: Riddikulus.

In case you’re wondering, this was a scam.

I think I know who sent the email, though:

Dunderheads.

On the up side, this will make a great basis for a mini-lesson on why spelling is important. Thanks for the teachable moment, suckers.

Emily

 

 

 

Posted in Dr. Seuss, ELA, English, Literature, Whimsy

Chapter 50: All the Whos Down in … Heorot?

OMGOMGOMGOMG.

You guys.

You. GUYS.

I have no idea how I missed this for 44 consecutive years, but as I was working on lesson plans for my children’s-lit students — who presented How the Grinch Stole Christmas to the K-2 students during a special holiday story hour last month in lieu of a traditional final exam — I noticed something that delighted my little English-teacher heart:

The Grinch is basically Grendel.

I don’t mean the Dr. Seuss children’s classic is a completely faithful retelling of Beowulf, because it is not. But it bears a striking resemblance to the first part of Beowulf, in the same way that Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory resembles Dante’s Inferno, and The Lion King resembles Hamlet.

Check it out:

In the Anglo-Saxon epic, King Hrothgar builds a big mead hall called Heorot, where he and his subjects feast, sing, and party like rock stars every night, inciting the rage of the monster who lives in a nearby cave.

In the Seussian epic, (OK, maybe not quite an epic, but by picture-book standards … look, just go with it) the Whos down in Who-ville feast, sing, and party every Christmas, inciting the rage of the monster who lives in a nearby cave.

In both stories, the monsters decide to solve their problems by breaking and entering with the intent of committing further crimes.

The poems diverge after this point — the Grinch sticks to larceny in his attempt to quiet his raucous neighbors, while Grendel goes for homicide and cannibalism — but the premises are too similar for me to believe they’re a coincidence.

After all, Dr. Seuss employed iambic tetrameter in Green Eggs and Ham (Sam-I-Am is a pun, as I explain here), so why wouldn’t he draw inspiration from Beowulf?

I’m kind of disappointed I didn’t notice this last year, when my seniors were having so much fun delving into John Gardner’s Grendel. I’d love to hear them debate whether the Grinch is a nihilist or an existentialist.

Emily

Posted in Common Core, Student engagement, Tools, Whimsy

Chapter 44: A New Hope

starwars

OMG, you guys. I just found THEEEEEEEE most ridiculous way to display my Common Core objectives on the Promethean board next fall: the Star Wars Crawl Creator.

It won’t let me save text I enter, so I’ll have to put the daily objectives in a Word file and just copy and paste them in on the fly, but I am HOWLING as I imagine my hilarious incoming sophomores sitting down, looking up at the board, and seeing their objectives scroll up the screen in George Lucas style while John Williams’ famous theme song plays dramatically in the background.

Three days into summer, and I’m already nerding it up. I don’t even know what to say for myself.

Emily

Posted in Humor, Memories

Chapter 42: Quote Book

When I was in college, the campus newspaper office had a beloved tradition that involved transcribing funny comments people made in the newsroom and pasting them into a battered old photo album we referred to as the Quote Book.

I brought that tradition to several subsequent newsrooms. I now keep an electronic quote book on my school computer and add to it now and then. Most of my favorite quotes fall under the category of Things I Never Expected to Have to Say in a Classroom. Among those gems:

“Stop eating staples.”

“Do not attempt to milk each other.”

“Damon, quit panhandling.”

“Matthew, quit leg-pressing Preston.”

“Stop making Barbie behave like Chucky.”

If you’ve taught very long, none of those directives is likely to surprise you. If you’re a bright-eyed college senior graduating from a teacher-ed program: Welcome to the profession. You’ve just spent four years learning classroom-management skills and pedagogical strategies so you can spend the rest of your life telling seventh-graders not to eat office supplies.

Totally worth it. I highly advise starting your own quote book so you can look at it on bad days and remember why you thought this was a good idea.

Emily