Friday, July 4, 2008

Vignettes: lunchtime

There's a bunch of junior boys who have been spending lunchtimes industriously making origami bits and bobs from the scrap paper we hand out as needed (although it's not usually for origami).
I let them loose among my coloured paper today, and they each took away seven sheets to play with. Among their makings, I was presented with a red crane, and an orange lily leaf (put your hand on it, miss, see how it bounces?).

Lovely enthusiasm. Although I did, towards the end of lunchtime, have to ask them, rather pointedly, not to assault others with origami...the first time I've had to say this, in all my teaching career (I told them that too). Another of their origami projects (I can make fifty things just from my head, miss) is a noisemaker - the infolded pieced of this comes out with an audible snap when it's whipped through the air. It's rather fun to do, if you're a junior boy and your pals are on the computers nearby, and jump in a satisfying kind of way when you startle them. Until the teacher librarian puts a stop to it.

I think they'll be back to raid my coloured paper stash.

Meanwhile, at my own computer in my office, a group that began as three and ended as about ten students was challenging their collective wisdom with On this site, you're given one word and four definitions. Click on your best guess, and if you're right, twenty grains of rice are given to a UN program to alleviate hunger. You also get about 1/3 of a point towards a 'level' (of expertise). If you're wrong, then you drop one level (it's brutal...).

The group cheerfully discussed, argued and considered their best guess for each one. I drifted in and out, each time further away from the computer, because the group had grown. By the end of lunch, they'd donated many many grains of rice. As the bell went and they left, they were bubbling with enthusiasm. We recorded their score in grains so they'll have a basis for comparison another time. I overheard one boy say enthusiastically to a pal, that was SO COOL. You should have been here. It was much better with a group.

I think they'll all be back, too. And none of them appeared to notice at all that they'd actually learnt a bunch - working out the words they didn't know by the clues available (it starts with neo, that's new, so which one fits that? pyro, that's fire...), discussing, happily arguing, defending their choices. I haven't looked at freerice myself for a while, but the words seemed a tad simpler than when I first looked - then, a lot were very obscure. But now a nice challenge for the kids, not easy by any account, but not impossibly hard.

Neither origami nor vocabulary building (or indeed, donations to world hunger programs) are probably documented as major purposes of any school library. But this lunchtime (and there were plenty of other kids in the library, a few far from angelic) felt absolutely dandy and right. The kids were happy, the library a happy place to be. It wasn't entirely quiet, and not every kid was deep in books or computer research - but it was good, and amusing, and at the end my school assistant and I exchanged grins.

So there's a happy view of life in a school library with which to end the term.  Soooo ready for a holiday!  Back in a couple of weeks.  If you're on hols now, hope you have a lovely, refreshing time too.  Cheers! (oh, and best wishes for the Fourth of July to US readers of this blog).

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