Friday, October 17, 2014


This morning my reading class was examining a short memoir to identify its theme. The plot involved a half dozen chicks that a family purchased so that they would have fresh eggs, but when their chisckens matured, it turned out that they were all roosters. "What do you think the lesson of this story might be?" I asked.

"Get as much information as you can before you make a decision," someone offered.

"Don't count your eggs before they're laid?" another quipped.

I put their suggestions on the board and we tried to find a common idea. "How about never assume?" I said, and wrote it down. "Because you know what they say," I winked.

I knew they didn't know. I've taught this unit ten times, and not many sixth graders are familiar with the turn of phrase I was about  to introduce to them.

One student did raise his hand though. "Is it Never assume or you'll..." he paused. I thought he might have it. He continued, "maybe be wrong?"

I laughed. "You might," I said. "But there is a saying: Never assume or you'll make an," here I circled the first three letters of the word. "Out of you," I circled the fourth letter, and "me!" I circled the last two letters.

My students sat in stunned silence. Then minor chaos erupted as they got the old joke. "Oh man!" one boy hooted, "I love this class!"

Yep. That's all it takes to engage sixth graders. And you can bet they'll remember that lesson.

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