Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I'm Already Giving Students Nicknames...

Its the first week of school (again) and I'm surrounded with people who soon won't be strangers but for now, they are a little too silent, too serious, too stiff.  

Maybe not all of them.

The first day, in my BIG auditorium class, I gave them a mini lecture on the scope and content of the course. 

 We went through the Civil War and Reconstruction, past the Spanish American War, through the Progressive Era and  WW1, then past Lysol douches and paused in the 1930s where I showed the students a picture of a Hooverville and told them what a Hoover Flag was (an empty pocket, turned inside out), what a Hoover Blanket was (a thin piece of newspaper).

I pause and ask -- knowing most of them won't be able to answer it  -- "What's on a Hoover sandwich?"

Blank faces tinged with fear looked down and away, but one girl -- a beautifully dressed one in the front row blurted out,   "a whole bunch of people, I hope!" 

I shook my head, trying to imagine -- then not imagine -- a sandwich full of people, which looks like a bread orgy in my head.

"No, it's a stale piece of bread, but you're awesome..." I said while pausing lecture to give her a nice hug for being so funny (and sitting in the front row).

In another I class, a student  kept her phone out as I was starting class, then said "But I'm tweeting!" 

aI asked "about me?" and she said "YES" and I said "$20! I can't tweet about you during class, you can't tweet about me during class." 

It killed me to take her $20 because deep down I wanted to show her I was impressed at her initiative in reporting from the field, for writing when she didn't have to write, and having the sense to write something nice about me,  but I couldn't, so instead I gave her a nickname (Tweet) and called on her relentlessly for the rest of the class period.

So far, so good.