"Your kids are f***ing s***heads. Good luck with them."
That is a text I received before returning to work from maternity leave. Really made me excited about going back you know? Some of my kids were rough around the edges, but what can you expect when you leave them with a sub for so long? One of my administrators even warned me not to smile at my kids for the first several weeks back. He had apparently had several run ins with my kids. Anyway, I knew I couldn't do that. I'm human and if I wasn't able to have some sense of humor in the classroom then I would probably crack and lose it. Besides, I like to believe that they are all good students, just some of them make not so good choices.
Last Friday they really got to redeem themselves. My students and I had to sit in the auditorium while the counselors called students up one at a time to prepare their schedules for next year. I knew there would be a lot of down time and we don't have any time to waste, so I brought an activity for my kids. For those of you interested I will tell you about the activity in just a minute. The important thing was that it kept them busy. At the end of the day the counselors pulled me aside and said, "Mrs. PJ your kids are the most well behaved and most respectful students we have had in here all week." They went on to tell me that it had not been that quiet the entire time they had been in the auditorium and that I was the only teacher that had brought something for the students to do. I was so proud of my kids that I was beaming the rest of the day. On Monday I told them that the counselors had nothing but nice things to say about them.
So what did we do with our down time? I split them into six groups. Each group was given a deck of cards. Each deck had forty cards with a term and picture and a corresponding card with an explanation. That's right, my high school students played match. They loved it. With that many cards it took them almost the whole period to match them all up, but they competed to see which group could match them all first. When they finished I got them all to play a game where I called out something and they had to find and hold up a card that fit the description. "Which two cards are opposites of each other? Find a card that is one of the five themes of Geography. Do you have one that is a physical feature?" You can easily make your own deck of cards by making a table in a blank word document or pages file and filling it in with your own vocabulary and pictures. These vocabulary decks are great for a throw down review lesson.