Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Beginning

Every day is an adventure in middle school. Every kid in every class is having the "single most ___ day" of their lives.
Every kid is weird.
Every kid is awkward.
Every kid is awesome.

I decided to record some of these "adventures" because while they seem so vivid to me now, I know that later, with years of teaching behind me, I'll forget the little adventures that happened along the way. Plus, they really should be shared because they are HILARIOUS. 6th graders are funnier than any sitcom.

Gather round, my son, and I will tell you a tale of the origin of "Bikini Bottom(s)".

On an ordinary day in 6th grade science, students were grappling with the process of experimentation. They struggled, furrowing their brows and making clear their exasperation with frequent grunts and snorts and quiet "this sucks"s. Figuring out dependent and independent variables and control groups and hypotheses and procedures and conclusions and analyses... that is some tricky business, and they wanted me to KNOW that it was a tricky business they wanted nothing to do with.

Students were given the task of designing their own experiments. After they had spent considerable time actually DOING this work, the grunting diminished and the complaining, while still constant, lessened in intensity, and the students really seemed to "get it". So, I asked them to apply their understanding in a more abstract way and gave them a series of situations from the internet that were inspired by Spongebob Square Pants. Kids needed to read the scenario, identify variables, and critique the "experiment".

Students started working and I was strolling the room, stopping to visit with small groups, redirecting students who had lost their focus, asking questions, pushing their thinking, when I got to Harrison (obviously, his name has been changed...).

(Please note - this child really does talk like this.)

I said, "Harrison, how are we doing?"
"What are your thoughts on that first scenario?"
Harrison started growling at me. Literally growling.
Then he threw the packet of scenarios and asked me (in an outdoor voice), "WHY ARE YOU FEEDING ME THESE LIES?"
"What lies are you referring to, Harrison?"
"The lies in this reading! None of these things has EVER happened in ANY episode of Spongebob that was EVER made!"
"I see, Harrison. Maybe I didn't explain this well enough when I passed these scenarios out. They are not transcripts of actual episodes, they are merely science scenarios someone wrote using familiar Spongebob characters. Do you understand?"
"Mrrrrrrs. Borzo." (kids ALWAYS call me Mrs.) "This is offensive and completely unrealistic. I've seen every episode that has ever been made, including the movie, and none of these things would happen. This is a MISUSE OF NICKELODEON PROPERTY because those characters are TRADEMARKED. Trademarked, Mrs. Borzo! Trademarked! Which leads me to my next thing that this is, which is copyright infringement. This whole science class is breaking the law!"
"Ah. Harrison, I appreciate your enthusiasm about Spongebob, and I'm glad you are interested in how the legal system works, but I assure you I am not breaking the law, nor is the entire science class, and I'd like to encourage you to focus less on the characters and more on our goal, which is to analyze the SCIENTIFIC element here."
"Mrrrrrrrrrrrs. Borzo. The thing that is the worst is that I can tell that you don't even like or watch this show, and don't try to tell me that you do. While you are stealing characters to make me learn science, you are also proving that you haven't learned a thing about Spongebob or even taken time to watch the show. Here, look - it says 'there wasn't a doctor in all of Bikini Bottoms...'. Bikini bottomSSS? BOTTOMSSSSSS? Spongebob doesn't live in Bikini Bottomssss, he lives in Bikini Bottom! One bottom! You want some science? It is scientifically impossible to live in more than one bottom at a time! Unless there is some kind of magic involved..."
"You could be right on that one, Harrison. Now, here is the deal. If this is really a problem for you, you can come in after school and we can discuss it further. If you think you can move past your concerns about the use of Spongebob characters in this scenario and focus on the science, awesome - you won't need to worry about coming by my room at 2:55. So you have a decision to make now: would you like to do the work now, or swing by after school to discuss the issue and THEN do the work?"
"I guess I'll probably just work now. The great thing about Spongebob is, everyone likes him so I don't really object to doing the work."
"I couldn't agree more - he is great, and that I think you made a good decision."

The moral of this story is: unless there is magic involved, you can NOT live in more than one bottom at a time.


  1. Love it Ms. Borzo :) Sixth graders are pretty spectacular!

  2. That's one heck of a way to start a blog. Keep 'em coming. Can't wait to see what happens next!