Sunday, March 29, 2009


I have previous experience teaching fourth graders about the establishment of our United States government under the Constitution by pretending to be the King, having the students overthrow me, setting up a Constitutional government of their own, and culminating the lesson with a trial. I have blogged about it previously: A Lesson in American Justice Gone Astray.

The lawmakers in our class came up with these ideas:

  • chewing gum is allowed in class at all times
  • food is allowed except for chips and other "noisy" snacks
  • a field trip every month
  • a class party every week
  • a walking field trip to the nearby National Monument every week
  • cable tv watching during Wednesday lunches in the classroom
  • music, played during quiet writing times and parties, to be chosen by the class and not the teacher
  • more computer lab time, and it's to be used playing "games"
  • more "self-selection' (wasted free time)

"Congress" has already passed the "Gum Chewing Resolution" and I hate it. It rattles my innards to watch those precious children turned into cud-chewers. Gum just doesn't seem apropo in an elementary classroom. Of course, it could be my 1950's upbringing, but that's my "culture." I respect their "culture," so why don't they respect mine? I hate to say it, but I am itching to arrest all of the little cud-chewers before the week is up. I want to hire one of the best prosecuting attorneys in the class and send them all upriver.

I would be better off, however, preventing them from passing the rest of their bills into law. If all of them are implemented, we won't have time for the Three R's: reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic. Of course, that's where their parents come in.


When you spend time with someone for six and a half hours a day, five days a week for nine and a half months, you are going to get to know them pretty well. At the beginning of each school year I tell my fourth grade students exactly that. I also add that we will probably "blow bunnies" in front of each other.

Blowing bunnies is a British nom de plume for farting, at least according to my British sister-in-law, Maggie. Maggie used that slang term for farts many years ago when I first met her. Many years later I reminded her of the expression and much to my surprise, she told me she had never heard it before and I didn't know what I was talking about. Now normally I would accept that as a fact, but this time I asked my wife, Peggy, if I had imagined it, and she said no, I was not imagining it. Peggy had heard her say it too. Maggie had forgotten, or had made it up, or was playing with me. We'll never know. But I don't care. The expression "blowing bunnies" is cute, and the kids love it.

Last week we got to know each other a little better. Someone in our class, whose name will go unmentioned, let loose a rip-snorter, a thundering powerhouse of a fart normally developed and released by a seasoned longshoreman. The class roared with laughter out of the normal embarrassment but with an added shock value. This was a long, deep, titanic blast of gastronomical methane. I have never heard a fourth grader, or any elementary student fart like that, ever. Normally the guilty party is difficult to detect. When a child blows a bunny, it's small, cute, and discreet. This was different. Everyone knew who the guilty party was.

The guilty party stood up, spread their arms wide, and exclaimed, "But guys! I had Fiber One for breakfast!"

Having lifted weights and supplemented my diet with Hoffman's High Protein powder, I knew exactly what had happened. Your diet can affect your ability to blow bunnies.

A new commercial:

"Fiber One. Generating the loudest fart ever heard in a fourth grade classroom."


We deck our kids out in tee shirts with funny sayings and then send them out in public. I thought I'd make a note of some seen worn at the elementary school where I teach. It's not even summer yet, and as soon as the temperature increases, so will the number of tee shirts with clever sayings on them.

Everyone in my family drives me nuts

I love candy

Five reasons I wear pink:
  1. I make this color look good
  2. My Mom made me wear it
  3. It's a fashion statement
  4. Rock stars wear pink
  5. I am tough enough to wear pink

(Dopey is pointing to the right and saying) "I'm with Grumpy"

You can agree with me or you can be wrong

My way or the highway

May I be excused? My brain is full

Super hero

I gave up video games. It was the worst 15 minutes of my life.

Be thankful I'm not your kid

My attitude....Your problem

I belong to the Dark Side

What would Tinkerbell do?

How to stay out of trouble:

  1. Don't do anything wrong
  2. Don't get caught
  3. Blame your friends

For a minute there you bored me to death

I'm not lucky....I'm good

It's not easy looking this good

How can I get better at video games when I am stuck at school for seven hours a day?

I wasn't sleeping. I was in a deep state of thinking.

No, I don't want to play video games all day. I also want to eat junk food, tease my sister and watch TV.

Simple math: stupid + dumb = my sister

Parents just don't understand

Spoiled but worth it

I'm a keeper

(front) The flying monkeys stole my sister (back) but they brought her back for talking too much

I'm Mom's favorite

My Mom Rocks!

The cops just pulled me over for carrying these huge guns (arrows pointing to the wearers biceps)

(front) Santa thinks I'm nice (back)because I don't get caught

Adults don't normally wear this type of clothing, probably in order to avoid stares, verbal abuse, and physical assaults, but I have a neighbor across the street who has a jagged edge and I saw him wear out a tee shirt that said something unrepeatable on this blog site. For the exact tee shirt wording, please send a self addressed, stamped envelope to: Rafael's Silver Cloud Motel, Room 163, 4500 Rockwell Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90909

Saturday, March 07, 2009


The other day one of my fourth graders was reading aloud from a science textbook. He was a doing a fine job of reading with inflection, expression, and following all the punctuation. However, one of his sentences had a pronunciation error.

"Many of the invasive fish and mussels that are damaging the ecosystem of the Great Lakes were carried in ballast tanks on ships that traveled from Europe across the Atlantic Ocean and through the St. Lawnmower Seaway."


Fourth graders are at an age when baby teeth fall out as readily as bolts and parts off a 1970 Chevrolet Vega. I make sure my fourth grade students get their baby teeth home safely so they can put them under their pillow for the Tooth Fairy by placing them in a tissue, then stapling the tissue inside a large piece of folded over construction paper, thus making it hard to lose.

This year I have had an exceptional class in many ways, and certainly their statistics on losing teeth is one of the best I have ever seen. They lead their grade level (4th) in the greatest average of lost teeth per student (1.24), the smallest tooth (3 mm), the most in one day (3), the most in one week (5), and the most in one year (31, still counting, and it's only March!!). One boy lost two teeth in one day, one girl lost half of a tooth one day and the other half three days later, another kid swallowed his tooth, another gave it up while in the planetarium, and another said, "Mr. W., my tooth is loose," and then proceeded to have me get a good close-up look at it while she simultaneously pulled it out and completely grossed out her squeamish teacher.

I am aware that in the grand scheme of things, those baby teeth don't qualify as an accomplishment, but I'll put my class of Baby Teeth Losers up against any class in the country. Their reading and math levels aren't too shabby either.

Monday, March 02, 2009


I would like to toot my own horn, pat myself on the back, slap my own butt, high-five myself, and congratulate me for a successful planetarium field trip with my fourth grade class.

You take a bunch of fourth graders and what is a likely but easily overlooked problem when visiting the planetarium? Leaving a kid there? That's amateur stuff. It doesn't happen to a veteran like myself, although I am always cautious. It's not a problem easily overlooked unless you're asleep at the wheel. A kid disappears? Again, not likely or easily overlooked. Someone vomits on your lap. Been there. Done that.

How about this for a worst case scenario:

The teacher comes home the day before the field trip pretty strung out from dealin' with twenty-five children, hits the ol' Cabernet Sauvignon a little too eagerly, stays up late and watches a Terminator movie ("All be bach"), then goes on a field trip the next day at 10:30 in the morning and lays in a luxuriously comfortable, tilting recliner in a dark room with the lights out and some lady starts mumblin' something like, "...and as you can see on our ceiling, between Mars and Jupiter is the asteroid belt, an area full of rocks ranging in size from one mile in diameter to 3 centimeters in diameter, all traveling in an orbit that ish betwixt twelve and midnight your eyes are getting heavy sleep deep shleep night night z zz zzz

when suddenly some ten year old jasper wakes you up sayin', "Mr. W! You're sleeping and snoring! Wake up!" and you look around and fifty-two, ten-year old eyes are starin' at you and grinnin' because you, the teacher, the infallible, the perfect example, the hypocrite, the Snoozer, has fallen asleep! Then the little rugrats torture you by not paying attention to the lady but instead they stare at you intently, waiting for you to fall asleep again, you hypocrite! All eyes are no longer on the eternal beauties of the infinite, night skies, but instead are focused on your attentiveness, or rather lack of it, and the little rugrats are no longer listening to the lady who is now talking about the Milky Way. "If you get far enough away from the city where the huge number of lights block the view of the stars similar to what happens in the daytime with the sun, you will be able to see our own galaxy, the Milky Way stars far away distant galax sleep night bye-bye z zz zzz

And then you'll know how humilating it is to take a class of fourth graders to the planetarium, unless you do like I did:

1. Go straight home. Do not pass Go. Do not collect 200 anythings.

2. Stay away from the hootch. No decaffeinated coffee. No nothing.

3. Go to bed early. Beat the little nippers to the mattress. Don't even think about Jay Leno or David Letterman.

4. Wake up on time. Be ready. Be prepared. Be alert.

5. Drink huge amounts of coffee or Mountain Dew.

6. Go to the bathroom. A lot. Pace your intake of caffeine so that a maximum amount of chemical caffeine alertness is achieved with the least amount of pressure on the bladder.

7. Concentrate. Focus. Forge your mind in the fire of your will. Stay awake!

Success! I did it!!