Saturday, September 27, 2008

Froggie Went A - Courtin'...

Poem by Jack Prelutsky
The frogs wore red suspenders
and the pigs wore purple vests,
as they sang to all the chickens
and the ducks upon their nests.
They croaked and oinked a serenade,
the ducks and chickens sighed,
then laid enormous spangled eggs,
and quacked and clucked with pride.
This is the first poem, title poem, in a anthology of poems from the Poetry Foundation and its "Children's Poet Laureate" - Jack Prelutsky. This past week, I found myself four out of the five days in a cute, little first grade class reading books like this to my charges. When I got there the lesson plans were all laid out for the whole week with all the extra procedures and instructions that, "I was allowed to make any supplemental additions to those lessons." So...I have a "bag of tricks" that all subs must have full of stuff I like to share. This was going to be a "fun" week, I thought...
Well, I came to the end of the day (which seemed long) and then realized that I hadn't "covered" all the math. It was still in the pile on the desk. "Oh oh, now I'm in trouble," I thought. I decided to come in early the next day and see how I could fit in the missed Math. I noticed that the regular teacher had already been there. The lights were left on and her purse was still there. I hurried to plan "my plan" and then she walked in. She was very concerned to say the least. I could skip other things, but not Math. Those lessons were numbered daily and it was "tight". I assured her that it was inadvertant and that I would redouble my efforts to "catch up". The objective for the day was to teach "sums up to 4, 5, & 6". I had done that with a very popular game that everyone watched called "Gopher It". In it, you collected cards of nuts, carrots and apples by digging them out of a central pile. In up to three consecutive, elective turns, you could not duplicate a draw or you would lose your turn and what you drew.(a bit of gambling) They loved it and were adding their little heads off. I thought that "covered" the objective of the day without using the overhead transparencies, fill-in sheets etc. Wrong. Well, the next day I did plan to use everything including the "manipulatives" two-sided/colored coins for counting. Now we had to review 4,5,6 and teach sum of 7,8.9. & 10, 11, 12.
We, the regular teacher and I, went back to the office to get the roll sheet and check about upcoming assignments. Evidently, I was now not need on the following Mon. and Tues. and that had to be changed in the computer by the secretary. On the way we passed by the Principal's Office (my favorite one) and the teacher, in passing, told the principal that "things were better" she had run into me when she went back to her classroom. "Wheeew!" Yep, she had "told" on me. Boy, the pressure must be tight to use the "prescribed materials" with no creative deviation by a "master teacher" who likes to teach with games and songs.
Later on, in the week, I was informed by my next-door-neighbor teacher that I was to "walk" my class all the way to the playground at recess and keep them in line and quiet...even when I was taking them to the "exciting awards assembly". She never introduced herself or followed up on her "correction" of me, a lowly sub, or my "unruly class". I must say that another teacher in the first grade team did remind me of the "Fund Raising Assembly" and the "Disaster Drill" (probably planned) just before they happened. I thanked her. Another "team teacher" told me to bring my class right from recess to the assembly. I had decided to calm them down for five minutes in the classroom since I had checked with the "fund raisers" and they had said the assembly would start, ten minutes after recess. Guess what, we were late. They started early. We, of course, came in too noisily. I, mistakenly, had told the kids to quietly sneak down the hall and into the assembly "like Ninjas". The boys took me literally and were doing "summersaults" Big no-no! Oh, well...The assembly was led by one of most positive, encouraging administrator/leaders I know. Too bad "her wonderful attitude and ways" don't rub off more on her team of first grade teachers.
Part of the problem might be that wherever I go now on that campus kids of all ages are calling out my "name" in a friendly greeting. Why? I've been volunteering there in the Kindergarten for four years. One of the teacher commented about my "popularity" as we walked to recess. She didn't know that I had been doing that for four years. What do I do?...and still do?
I bring songs and skits and games as supplements to all levels. I try to have fun and make their learning fun. They seem to remember that. Case in point:
The Frog Suspender Poem/book reminded me of a wonderful song that I used to sing and act out with my classes:
Froggie went a-courtin' & and he did ride
*A-huh, A-huh
Sword & pistol by his side
**A-huh, A-huh, A-huh
Well, he rode down to Miss Mousie's door*
Where he had often been before**
He took Miss Mousie on his knee*
Said, "Miss Mousie will you marry me?"**
"I'll have to ask my Uncle Rat,*
See what he will say to that.**
Without my Uncle Rat's consent*
I would not marry the President."**
Well, Uncle Rat laughed and shook his fat sides*
To think his niece would be a bride**
Well, Uncle Rat rode off to town*
To buy his niece a wedding gown**
Where will the wedding supper be?*
Way down yonder in a hollow tree**
What will the wedding supper be?*
A fried mosquito & a roasted flea**
(veggie = 2 green beans & a black-eyed pea)
First to come in were two little ants*
Fixin' around to have a dance**
Next to come in was a bumble bee*
Bouncin' a fiddle on his knee**
And next to come in was a big Tom Cat*
He swallowed the frog, the mouse and the rat**
And last to come in was a big ol' snake*
He chased the party into the lake**
Well, you can imagine how much fun this was for them, and me. We read the poem Thursday and sang the song with dramatic action on Friday.(I just had to wear my red suspenders that day) We had to do it twice...and could've done it again. When the snake finally slithers in...there is panic and screaming. I'm sure we'll get complaints about that. Oh well, probably won't be invited back to that class/team again.
The first time I heard that song was from my dad on his old, covered, front porch in Kentucky. It ignited such images in me, I never forgot his lesson and the fun of that song. This, I think, is the way we pass on our "culture" and the fun of learning, rhyming, chain of predation etc. Pretty hard to "test" for this kind of stuff...don't you think? RRR

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