6

Tales From School: 4, 3, 2, 1, Pharaohs Want Their Buildings Done

After an exhausting weekend of two 3-hour drives, 2 workshops, 1 roundtable, and a ton of fun new memories at Eau Claire, it was time to get back to Madison and back to school. With my college students, I managed to stay awake enough to discuss Mother Courage with them, but stayed up half the night brainstorming ideas for how to introduce my next unit to my elementary school students tomorrow. Since Passover is coming up next week, and we have two weeks off, I got them started on thinking about this month’s country, Egypt.

I started off today with a riddle:

“My first letter is in a TREE but is not a FRUIT, my second letter is in the GARDEN but is not a FLOWER, my third letter is in the SKY but is not in the CLOUDS, my fourth letter is on the PLAINS but not in the LAND, and my fifth letter is in the DESERT but not in the SAND.”

In order to solve it, my students needed to figure out that they had to cross off letters that appeared in both words. The first one was pretty easy, since E was the only option, but the second letter could be either G, A, D, or N; the third could be K or Y; the fourth could be P, I, or S; and the fifth could be D, E, R, or T. After a few missed attempts (Eakie, anyone?) and running back and forth from the map, they figured out that it was Egypt. Which led me to introducing the riddle of the Sphinx, which segued into learning basic facts about modern-day Egypt (the lecture portion of the class).

After our mid-class break, we went to the multi-purpose room where I showed them pictures of some of Egypt’s great wonders: the temple at Karnak with its great pillars; the temple at Abu Simbel with the giant pharaoh statues; the Pyramids of Giza; and of course, the Sphinx. This led to a game similar to Simon Says, but I called it Pharaoh’s Builders.

The premise: One student is “pharaoh,” and all the others are builders. Pharaoh does not like it when the builders are lazy, so they must walk around in the hot hot sun until he decides which structure he wants them to build. If he says “pyramid” the builders must get in a group of four and join hands at the top; any student who does not get in that group is eliminated. If he says “sphinx”, the builders must get in a group of three; one as the pharaoh, one as the body of a cat, and one as the magic wings. Again, whoever doesn’t get into a group in time is out. If the pharaoh wants a “temple” two builders stand together side by side (with even numbers, no one gets eliminated; however, we later amended the rule to say that the couple who pairs up the slowest is eliminated). And finally, if he wants a “pillar” that means that the builders must stop where they are and put their hands to the sides; the slowest one, or the one who does the wrong position, is out. The winner becomes the next pharaoh.

We did this for several rounds and it was extremely fun. For the most part. The hiccups that occurred:

  • Tracey kept forgetting what a pillar was, despite making the final two almost every round, crossing her arms instead of putting them to the side.
  • One time, with four players left, the pharaoh called “sphinx.” Bella kneeled, Nora went down on all fours behind her, and Perry made the wings, but as he knelt down, Nelly slipped between him and Nora, making her own wings. Of course, arguing ensued, with the pharaoh (and me) saying that Perry was out because he hesitated when making the wings, Bella and Nora saying that Nelly cheated by cutting in front of Perry. In the end, though, it was resolved when the pharaoh said “what the pharaoh says, goes,” which actually solved the problem, and Perry (who is a pretty easygoing kid) went to the sidelines with no argument.
  • The game was pretty much determined by whoever made the pillar pose the fastest when the pharaoh called out “pillar,” so basically it was a game of walking and waiting. In one round, however, when Nora and Stephanie were in the final two with Nelly as pharaoh, Perry yelled “pillar!” from the sidelines, which confused the heck out of everyone else. It was a great discipline opportunity however; once that round had finished and Nora had won, I told the class that Perry, being a disobedient builder and not respecting the rules of the game, would be required to sit the next round out, and that we would play two more rounds.
  • Of course, there was a ton of arguing “I got here first!” “You moved!” but for the most part, the “what the pharaoh says goes” rule worked to resolve it, and if not that, then “what the teacher says goes.”

Despite the aforementioned issues, I think that this game is incredibly useful and does not get annoying like other games (like The Game We Shall Never, Ever Mention Again). I could play Pharaoh’s builders all day. The best part is that the kids will definitely remember all those things now.

That was quite the long blog post. In other news, today is 4/4 and I paid my VISA bill today using check #444. So that’s something?

Advertisements
0

Tales From School: Drawn, Quartered, Nickeled, and Dimed

Another day, another tale from elementary school. As usual, all names changed.

In today’s Jewish Studies lesson, we talked about kehillah, or the concept of community. With the unusual amount of stress of the past week, I hadn’t been able to think of anything worthwhile to do today, but about an hour before class I was sitting on my couch, looking at the items on my coffee table when I came across my dish of spare change.

Then the idea came to me.

Fast forward an hour or two to school. We spent the first hour talking about what a community is, what it means to be a part of a community, and why community is important. At the start of the second hour of class, I asked them to name different members of the community. Early choices were money collector (for the poor), charity organizer, and event coordinator; all good ideas, but not exactly what I was going for. So then, I suggested, a town mayor, and along came suggestions of doctor, lawyer, dentist, fireman, and policeman. Then, Allison chimed in with “hairdresser,” which she wants to be when she grows up. I wrote it on the board, but in a separate column from the other jobs, explaining that hairdressing is a service and a luxury. Not all towns need or can afford to have a hairdresser, but a hairdresser can be a community member. Other people then chimed in with toy store owner, bookstore owner, restaurant owner, and musician. Back in the first column, we included construction worker, plumber, engineer, teacher, food seller and a few others. My co-worker Clara suggested truck driver, to transport goods in and out. I made a few final suggestions, with postal worker (in case our community has no Internet), garbage collector (somebody’s gotta take the trash out), and rabbi (because, Jewish.)

Then, I went over to my backpack and took out the dish of spare change that had been sitting on my coffee table earlier (I fished out all the pennies and foreign coins before class). I told the class that each of them (and Clara, my co-worker, who decided to play with us) would receive a coin. If they received a quarter, that would mean that they had a big job in the community, were important, were responsible for a lot of human lives. Students who got nickels would choose medium-size jobs, not too big or too small, but people who might be of value to the community. The dime would be the most difficult one: someone who is in the community but does not or cannot contribute as much as the other two.

The students closed their eyes and put their hands out, and I distributed the coins at random. Out of the group of 16, 4 ended up with quarters, 7 with nickels, and 5 with dimes. I told all the students with quarters to stand, and tell everyone what their role in the community would be. Shoshana wanted to be the community’s doctor; Mia, the nurse; William, the banker; and my co-worker Clara, as the teacher (creative choice there, partner.) Then, they sat down and the 7 nickel students stood up and chose roles. Jesse wanted to be a pilot, Tricia wanted to own a restaurant, of course, Allison wanted to be a hairdresser, and so on. Then, the 5 students with dimes stood up. Molly wanted to be a girl detective like Nancy Drew, which I thought was a good example; part of the purpose was to recognize that children can be part of the community too. Petunia wanted to be a rookie police officer, someone who was still in school. Pauline had trouble thinking of one, so I whispered in her ear “grandma,” and she announced to the rest of the class that she was going to be a grandma. The other kids laughed until I told them that just like kids, older people can be part of the community too, and made up a hypothetical situation; maybe Mia worked at the nursing home taking care of Grandma Pauline, but when Pauline was younger and still working, she was the nurse who delivered Mia! The class started understanding after that. Finally, David had trouble thinking of something, and someone suggested a student for the teacher to teach, which worked well.

Then, we sat back and looked at our community, comprised of the occupations written on the board. The class was proud of themselves, noting that they had a lot of different jobs and that it would be fun to be a part of this community. We had some time left, so I wanted to do a second round. This time around, 8 got quarters, 5 got nickels, and 3 got dimes. Shoshana got a quarter again, and even though I told her she could still be a doctor, she decided to go with mayor. Jesse chose doctor, and so on. Of the nickel group, both Molly and Mandy chose detectives, and then of the dimes, Petunia and Jillian chose girl detectives. So, this time around, we ended up with a few good choices, but 1/4 of the town was a detective. I brought up the fact that we had no one in the food industry, so Molly offered to be a detective and a food trader, and some others as well. And we had completely forgotten about the charity collector and event organizer from before. Some of the kids suggested that in addition to being a lawyer or an artist or a musician they could also organize charity work, which was a good idea.

My co-teacher was super impressed with this activity, and I didn’t think it was half-bad myself. Something to think about. What do you think?

1

Cleaning 100!

So, ever since my birthday, my life has basically devolved into grading, doing massive amounts of forgotten laundry, stressing about my writing, sleeping too little, waking up again, and doing it all over.

Today I decided to take a break from it all – well, most of it.

Since I was off from school today, I spent only a small part of my day grading, and most of it catching up on emails, getting some pleasure reading done, and in a moment of inspiration, did a 100 clean.

This is a game which I invented some time ago to get myself to just get up and clean. It can be done anywhere, but basically, my floor was getting to the point where I couldn’t walk in my apartment without tripping over something or other, and something needed to be done about it.

How does the game work? You count each time you pick an object, or handful of objects up off the floor. It can be as large as a pile of clothes or as small as a pen or a coin. Once you have placed said object either in a drawer, on a table/counter, in the trash, or anywhere other than the floor, you repeat, with the next number. I went through my kitchen, hallway, living room, and part of my bedroom, and ended up, by 76 or 77, picking up small pieces of lint. So I basically just rearranged things, and got some things further back in my bedroom off the floor. Now, I have a lovely, clean carpet.

Of course, there is stuff on counter tops, but that’s for another day.

2

Fun and Foodsicals

It might have been because I fell asleep listening to Showtunes on Pandora, or maybe because I was hungry, but I woke up singing the lyrics from Wicked, only it was more like “it’s time to try, deep-frying gravity…”

Image result for defying gravity wicked

Which gave me an idea…a new game where you change the lyrics of musicals to talk about food instead, aka Foodsicals. And if you’re “Food, Glorious Food” from Oliver!, you can’t play this game.

My initial thoughts?

Chicago“Give ’em the old, sizzle sazzle…”

Image result for razzle dazzle chicago

Beauty and the Beast“Certain as the sun, rising in the yeast…”

Image result for beauty and the beast

That’s all I’ve thought of for now, but if you can think of any other good ones, post them in the comments.

Oh, and I got my 38000th RevolverMap hit the other day from Hilo, Hawaii, USA!

6

Things I Suck At: Two Truths and a Lie

So at tonight’s APO meeting, the chapter broke the ice with a few group games of Two Truths and a Lie. Tonight was also when I realized that I’m terrible at this game.

First off, I’m bad at lying. My parents always said I was so dramatic and a good actor, but I’ve never been good at actually lying. Maybe that’s why my acting career took off like the Challenger. Anyway, second, anybody who’s known me for awhile (and most of these people have known me for at least a year) know enough about me that they can tell what’s actually happened to me just based on things I’ve posted on Facebook, or stories I’ve told, or whatever. My truths included being a citizen of two countries, having won a ribbon for ballroom dancing, having a cactus named Emily, and having gone through my dean’s underwear.

My lies?

I was a champion ice skater. People saw right through that one, too similar to ballroom.

I’ve been to all fifty states. I don’t know why this was such a tell. I guess since people know I enjoy traveling, or maybe because it’s too mundane.

I met my first girlfriend at a Starbucks. It was actually a bagel shop. Maybe I should have said something a little more ridiculous, like “when I accidentally walked into the womens’ restroom at Barnes & Noble.” That might actually fool someone.

I’m allergic to coconut oil. Because…who’s allergic to coconut oil?

I was born on a ship. Yeah, I’m not old enough for anyone to fall for that.

The one lie people fell for?

I was arrested for public intoxication. I used that one along with the Emily truth and the underwear truth when talking with Kyle, Emily, and Amanda after meeting, and that was their last choice. I mean, it works pretty well. It’s plausible. It can happen for many reasons to many people, even those who don’t drink that much. It’s also one of those things that most people don’t are not proud of and don’t really want to go into too much detail about, so leaving out more details is perfectly legit. I have been drunk before, and probably disorderly, and have gotten citations (for other things), but I’ve never been drunk and disorderly in public, and I have never been arrested, for any reason.

So not too interesting, but it’s something to kill some time because I don’t want to grade or do homework right now.

I haven’t had any recent visitors from South America, but today happened to be a 5-continent, so here’s my usual list of hellos: what up North America (Canada and USA), Europe (UK and France), Asia (India, Hong Kong, and Singapore), Africa (South Africa) and Oceania (Australia and Papua New Guinea).

Oh, and I sent the first 2 of my 16 blog-friend-snail-mails. Hope you get them soon!

52

The Overly Dramatic Memoir Generator

One Small BoatThree Little WordsFive Smooth Stones.

Everyone’s read at least one in their life: an overly dramatic, too sappy memoir that is some person’s personal journey to emotional, mental, physical, or spiritual health/perfection/nirvana, and so can you. They show up in book clubs, on summer reading lists, and in psychiatrists’ waiting rooms. And they’re all equally annoying.

Well, guess what? Now, thanks to That’s So Jacob, you can have an instant best-seller with a personalized overly dramatic memoir about your life in a few simple steps!

Behold: That’s So Jacob’s Overly Dramatic Memoir Generator.

  1. Pick the first digit of your phone number. Mine is four.
  2. If you were born between January and June, pick a word that describes the first thing you touch with your left hand. If you were born between July and December, pick the first color you see when you look to the right. Mine is red.
  3. Pick the first item you see on the closest table to you. I just looked, and saw a pen.

Voila, I have a title. Four Red Pens.

Now the even more fun part: what’s your amazing, inspirational story? Now, think of your first and last names.

The first letter of your first name will correspond to your sorry-sounding adjective.

A: Lost

B: Teenage

C: Secret

D: Pregnant

E: Hidden

F: Long-Lost

G: Found

H: Orphaned

I: Changed

J: Runaway

K: Homeless

L: Innocent

M: War

N: Child

O: Rescued

P: Forgotten

Q: Saved

R: Abandoned

S: Broken

T: Imprisoned

U: Anorexic

V: Uncommon

W: Gifted

X: Violated

Y: Depressed

Z: Battered

Now, who are you? Take the first letter of your last name to find out who you are:

A: Runaway

B: Gym Teacher

C: Bride

D: Whore

E: Nun

F: Teenager

G: Centenarian

H: Midwife

I: Orphan

J: Hooker

K: Wife

L: Addict

M: Daughter

N: Son

O: Angel

P: Mother

Q: Veteran

R: Prostitute

S: Zombie

T: Thief

U: Robber

V: Criminal

W: Slave

X: Grandmother

Y: Queen

Z: Princess

So, my memoir would be:

Four Red Pens: I Was a Runaway Midwife

So, what’s your memoir? Let me know in the comments!

4

Theatre Thoughts n Things: Trifles, The Mafia Game

As some of you may know – well, anyone who reads me knows – I’m teaching a course at my university this semester, an introductory theatre course. I have 4 sections of students, and it’s my job to keep them occupied and discovering the wonderful world of theatre and plays during a weekly 1-hour supplementary discussion section.

This morning, I woke up with two realizations. First, I had to lead 2 discussions today on Trifles, by Susan Glaspell. Second, I had no idea how to do it and was scared like no other. I pictured myself, stammering and staring in front of a room full of bored college students, watching the minutes tick by on the clock, and then lowering my head in defeat as the bell rang.

However, I came up with a plan. A lesson plan, incorporating both Trifles and a super-fun party game.

Introducing: Trifles, the Mafia Game.

Essentially, it’s a simple version of Mafia. I dealt out a deck of cards, one to each class member. 5 of them were clubs; those 5 were the Five-Club Mafia. Their goal: eliminate all the townspeople, AKA the rest of the class, who were all dealt spades. We started off in “night” mode, with everyone asleep on their desks. I asked the Mafia to wake up, and by silent gestures, decide on a victim. Then, they go back to sleep, and everyone wakes up for “day” mode, in which we find out which townsperson has been “killed,” and they are now “dead” and out of the game. Together, the townspeople must put in three nominees for lynching, and by a majority-vote, lynch one of their own, who then reveals his/her status. If the townspeople eliminate the mafia, they win. If the mafia gain a majority in the town, they win.

This ties back to the play Trifles by Susan Glaspell, in which a murder has been committed, but the sheriff, county attorney, and a farmer overlook key pieces of evidence, disregarding what two women find (a dead bird, a knotted quilt) and referring to those items as “trifling,” when they are indeed pivotal to the case. Subsequently, the two women make off with the evidence.

In my first section, I think the discussion went on a bit too long because we only ended up having time for two rounds, which is a problem when you have 14 students. However, after two deaths, and two lynchings of townspeople who turned out to be innocent, we were left with 5 Mafiosos and 5 townies. Technically, a stalemate, but I awarded the win to the Mafia, who largely remained out of suspicion. I think that only maybe one of them was even suggested as a potential Mafioso.

My second discussion section yielded a more interesting result. In that section, I had 15 students: 7 male, and 8 female. As luck would have it, unlike the previous section, whose Mafia was 3 male and 2 female, this section’s Mafia ended up being 4 female and just 1 male. In the first round, the victim was male, and another male (innocent) was lynched. In the second round, the victim was again, male, and another male was lynched, but he turned out to be one of the Mafia. In the third round, the class woke up to find that the third victim was – once again – male. Now, down to 2 men and 8 women, I put forth the suggestion to the class…

“Notice that the men are being taken out one by one? Maybe, just maybe, there’s an all-female Mafia that’s slowly eliminating the guys, continuing the work of the ladies from Trifles?”

After that suggestion, the townspeople lynched a female classmate, who turned out to be one of the Mafia. We only had time for one more round, and with 9 students left (2 male, 7 female; 3 Mafiosos and 6 townspeople), the townies had already decimated the Mafia and had a higher probability to win, but I decided to see what would happen. We went to night, and the ladies of the Mafia switched it up and eliminated a female townie. When we switched back to day mode, I think that the townies caught on that the mafia were trying to cover up their identities even further, so the only names that were nominated were girls. Oddly enough, of the 6 girls that were left, the three names that the townspeople offered up for nomination were the three innocent girls, so the townies ended up lynching one of their own. If we would have gone on one more round, the Mafia could have turned the game around, but since class was over, I ended up giving the win to the 4 remaining townspeople, despite the 3 remaining Mafia ladies never really arousing any suspicion from the rest of the class. Even though the townspeople won by default, I think that had we gone on one more round, the Mafia would’ve taken control.

Overall: Had we more time (and if I had more time to think and be creative) it could have been more successful, but I think that it was a good exercise, involving acting, entertainment, strategy, and a little reference to the play we were studying. It worked better when the Mafia happened to be (almost) all-female, like what happened in my second section, but I think that people enjoyed it, even if they did not get too much out of it.

For a homework assignment, I asked them to reflect on their experience, and connect it to performance and to Trifles.

Which I kind of just did, myself.

I give myself an A.

Good job Jacob!