Humor in the Classroom

Nov 10 Being grateful for humor – share a story about a time in your career where humor played a part.

Again I find I can’t pick out just one moment, one story.   I use humor in frequently in my classroom. I use funny voices, bad accents, overreact to things to get my kids attention.  I’ve been known to sing or dance around the room.  Whatever it takes.

Ok so now two stories do come to mind.  First my partner teacher and I were teaching our middle schoolers the parts of plot: Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.  My partner teacher came up with an acronym/mnemonic device to help the kids remember, we also made it kinesthetic by having the kids touch their thumb and each finger of one hand as they went through.  Here it is: Every Retarded Cat Farts Repeatedly the kids giggled hilariously but they remembered it.  The following year as I did not like the word retarded I changed it a bit to Every Resting Cat Farts Repeatedly.  Crude and Crass?  Maybe but for middle schoolers the perfect use of humor to help them remember a curricular concept.

The second was me dancing and sort of singing.  I had found out that many of my students were big Jeff Dunham fans, and while I wondered about the fact that 6th graders were watching his shows I went with it.  They kids were particularly giggly over his Je-f-f bit with Peanut.  We were working on how to respond to constructed response questions on our state test the MAP.  We used the RADD method: Restate, Answer, Detail, Detail this became RA-D-D an-swers on the MAP (in the same singsong way Peanut says Je-f-f Dun-ham dot com).  Again kids giggled but many of them remembered it.

All of this reminds me of CPCTC.  That needs explanation doesn’t it.  I took Geometry my freshman year of high school some 24 years ago (um I’m suddenly overcome with a wave of old lol).  The teacher was Coach Seigel, the tennis coach.  She was funny and could often be counted on to get off task telling us stories a few of which I remember to this day.  The thing that sticks in my mind most however is when she taught us: Corresponding Parts of Congruent Triangles are Congruent.  She literally danced a conga around the room singing CPCTC uh, CPCTC uh.  We laughed about the “crazy” teacher but you know what two decades later I remember it.  So it worked.

I also had a singing typing teacher, yeah singing was popular in my school for some reason.  Let’s face it typing can be one of the most boring classes in the world, and I say this as someone who teaches typing as part of my classes.  I distinctly remember being asked to sit looking only at our monitors and typing what the teacher said, it started simply enough with him saying “h j space, h j space,” Then it fell into a rhythm and singing with “hjspace, hjspace.” wish I had an audio for you.  Again I looked to a classmate, this time one of my best friends in the world to this day Jen, and she looked back at me both with that “this teacher is nuts look in our eyes.  Again though I remember it to this day and I know how to type hj space without looking even when I struggle with other letters 🙂

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