Friday, January 11, 2008

Lessons in Patience or Grading Papers in Class

I know there are various good reasons why we grade papers in class. The most important reason is the opportunity it opens for deep discussions. As we talk about what the correct answer should have been, and what the very close answer could have been, we are able to address a wide range of relevant topics. (And a side range of topics which are not relevant, but may be opportunely inserted.)
Right now we are doing a chapter-by-chapter overview of the book of Mark. My seventh and eighth graders are split into boys' class and girls' class. (Opposite P.E.) Now if you have never directed a group of junior high-aged youngsters grading papers, you probably won't appreciate how long it takes to grade even the simplest of answers.

This conversation actually occurred yesterday as we graded Mark, chapter eight.

Teacher: Are you all ready to grade?
Anna: Yes, I am, I think I am, Wait, I don’t think I got the right paper.
Teacher: Remember we are grading our own papers today?
Anna: But I didn’t trade…
Teacher: Do you have your own paper?
Anna: Yes
Teacher: Then grade that one.
Anna: But I don’t have a different colored pen.
Tosha: Here’s a purple one.
Anna: Well, but I…
Jenny: Here, I have a green one
Anna: Well, OK.
Teacher: Are you ready to Grade now?
Carrie: I am.
Lily: I am too.
Teacher: Read the first question please, Reagan.
Reagan: Why were the disciples concerned about the people who had been listening to Jesus?
Teacher: Ok, read the answer, Reagan.
Reagan: Ok, but I don’t think I have it right.
Teacher: That’s fine. Read it anyway.
Reagan: They thought the people were hungry?
Teacher: Yes, can you explain it more?
Reagan: Well, they hadn’t had anything to eat.
Teacher: How long had they been there?
Joanie: Mine says, “Three days.”
Teacher: True. So your answer should say either: The people had been without food for three days, or the people were hungry.
Lily: So what if you put both?
Teacher: Your answer would be right.
Robby: So if you only put one, you take off one half right?
Teacher: No. I said “either…or”.
Lily: You have to say “either, or”?
Teacher: No, you have to say they were hungry, or else you have to say they had been without food for three days. Either one is right.
Robby: I don’t get it. How many do I take off?
Katherine: So what if you didn’t mention how many days?
Teacher: Did you say the people were hungry?
Katherine: No.
Teacher: What did you say?
Katherine: I said the people had been listening to Jesus for a long time and they hadn’t had any food.
Teacher: Then that answer would be correct.
Anna: Ok, what about mine?
Teacher: What did you put?
Anna: The disciples were afraid the people would faint on the way home if they didn’t feed them.
Teacher: That, too, would be correct.
Robby: Wait. I didn’t say anything about them fainting?
Lily: Did they faint? I don't remember them fainting. Wait. What question are we on?
Reagan: I’m lost. I’m still on the first question.
Rebecca: So what if we put, “The people had been listening to Jesus for a long time. Many of them had not brought lunches, so they were feeling rather faint. The disciples were concerned that they might not make it home unless they fed them, but the disciples knew that they didn’t have enough money to feed them, even if a store was nearby, which it wasn’t.”
Teacher: Your answer would be correct.
Reagan. My answer isn’t that long. I just put that the people were hungry. I think she should get bonus points.
Lily: So we are supposed to give bonus points if the answer is long?
Teacher: No.
Robbie: So, pretty much anything we put is right? Right?
Teacher: Wrong. You have to put the right answer.
Lily: But you said that more than one answer could be right?
Teacher: Let’s read question two, Anna?
Anna: Yes?
Teacher: Would you read question two?
Anna: It’s not my turn to read. You skipped Tosha.
Tosha: It’s ok. I really don’t mind. She can read the question.
Teacher: Anna, read the question please.
Anna: How many loaves of bread and how many fish were the disciples able to find?
I put seven.
Teacher: Is that all you put?
Anna: Well, my Bible didn’t say how many fish. It just said “A few small fish”.
Teacher: Then that’s what you should have put. “A few” is how many.
Anna: Well no, it isn’t. It doesn’t say how many, see….I had the wrong translation.
Teacher: All the translations said the same thing: “a few”
Lily: I put seven and “a few”, but I didn’t say bread or fish. Is that ok?
Teacher: It’s fine.
Jenny: So If we don’t say they are small it’s ok?
Teacher: yes
Robbie: So if we only have “a few” we take off one half, right?
Teacher: Did you also put "seven loaves"?
Robbie: No
Teacher: Then take off one half.
Robbie: How many points is that?
Teacher: Just put “minus one half” beside the question.
Reona: Ok. I just found a pen. Could we repeat the first question please?

You get the point. Sometimes it takes the whole hour to grade and discuss thirty questions. They know that they will have the next set of questions to complete for tomorrow, and they realize that any not finished in class will need to be completed at home…and yet…somehow.

As an side note, if you get a chance to study the photos of the graded questions, you might chuckle at the difference between "boys' grading" and "girls' grading".

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Unusual and Intriguing facts I found in the Bible.

I’m doing a read-through of the Bible again, and every now and then I run across something that makes me do a double-take, “Huh? I wonder why I didn’t remember that, or Wait? Why ever would they put that in, seeing how it doesn’t seem to contribute to the story? I decided to make a note of these interesting little tidbits every time I ran across one. I’m using a “Narrated Bible” which purports to put all the books in chronological order and sometimes that in itself lends itself to “ah” moments.

1. Moses and the elders saw the throne of God sitting on a sapphire sea—Exodus 24

2. What is the Book of wars? Exodus wars? It is mentioned in Numbers 21:14, 15

3. The angel of the Lord tells Balaam that he would have killed him if the donkey had not turned aside…but he mentions that he would have spared the donkey.

4. Mt. Hermon was once called Sirion. (It sounds like a name from a fantasy world. Or maybe a Japanese car...hmmm.)

5. The land taken by the Ammonites had once been inhabited by a race they called Zamzumites. ( I looked for a picture on Google images, but had no luck with Zamzumites.)

6. King Og was a Rephaite. His bed was made of iron, over 13 ft. long and 6 ft wide.
(He was not an original gangster and did not have a music group--at least I think not.)

7. Any man who hit his slave and blinded them in an eye or knocked out a tooth had to give the slave his freedom.
(Exodus 21)

8. An escaped slave who ran to Israel for sanctuary could not be extradited and handed over to his former master. (Deut. 23:15) All Israelite slaves had to be freed after (at most) six years;
they could not be sent out empty-handed.

9. Leviticus 19:32 says “Rise in the presence of the aged; show respect for the elderly.” (and I wondered where we got that, the standing as a sign of respect, I mean.)

10. Gideon’s servant had a name—Purah. (Judges 7) (Not a name I'd choose...but a name)

11. An inheritance was given in this order: son, daughter, brothers, father’s brothers, nearest relative.

12. The Levites were to receive 48 cities as their inheritance and 1500 feet out from the walls as pasture for their livestock.

13. This last one is really interesting to me. It involves the sacrifice that had to be made for the cleansing of leprosy.

After examination of one who declares that he is now clean, he must make a sacrifice: Take two live birds. One is killed over a bowl of water. The second is dipped into the blood of the first along with a piece of cedar wood, hyssop, and a scarlet yarn. (This is used to sprinkle the patient.) Then the second bird is set free.

It’s a crucifixion analogy: slain bird, cedar wood, hyssop, and the red stripe for healing.
The bird dies, then “flies free again”. His blood cleanses from sin. (leprosy)

I can't believe I never noticed these things before, and I'm sure I'll come up with more as I read along. I think the interesting "asides" are there because the Bible is more of a history than a series of carefully crafted "short stories" which have to have only relevant elements.

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Chubbiness Conspiracy

I've just discovered who the real culprit is in America's losing war against obesity. It's the restaurant food industry; that's who it is.

Last night after church, a group of us trooped innocently into an ambush at the Pizza Pit. We should have known. There were the seedy-looking agents all around, ushering us smilingly to a table, arranging our chairs with oh-so-much room between them, offering us first a glass of highly-overpriced soda with double the fizz, warding off the occasional sane voice that might be tempted to ask for "mere water" by the condescending look they gave as they listed the choices.

Now anybody can understand that a restaurant makes more money if each person at the table spends seven dollars on a sandwich instead of two dollars on a sandwich, so two-dollar sandwiches were not even on the menu; neither were two dollar pizza bits. No, all the entrees were expensive, but, to justify the price, they were also enormous. My "ham" (disguised as Mountain of Fire and Delectable Oceans of Cheese) sandwich rested majestically on a large bed of fluffy, yellow potato chips next to a pickle. Of course, nobody pays those kinds of prices and then throws away half the precious meal, and if the sandwich is drizzled with enough dressing to make the Sahara soggy, nobody is tempted to take it home in a doggy bag so they can eat it for breakfast the next morning. There is only one thing a diner can do---choke it down, barely pausing long enough to dig out all the hidden jalepenos, which, by the way, were not properly warned against in the menu. So I forced myself to eat it all...and I had to drink two large glasses of diet Pepsi to help the missed jalepenos down. Meanwhile, the juke box played loud songs full of beat so we customers would bounce in time to the song, and have the illusion that we were exercising.

On the way home I repented in ashes and bitter tears. I felt like a cross between Vesuvius and the Dead Sea. Hiccups assailed me, like subtle warnings of imminent tectonic plate shifts...and I couldn't believe I had actually paid good money for the privilege of gaining another five pounds. Woe is me!

Ah well. Alas. Now I'll have to pay an exorbitant price to use the health club to walk off the pounds. So what I'm wondering is this: Why doesn't the money I pay to the health club compel me to take advantage of my entire work-out like the money I paid for the wicked sandwich compelled me to finish it. Life is so confusing!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Oklahoma Red

The new picture in the header was taken from a snapshot (When it's a digital camera, do you still call it a snapshot?) uploaded by my daughter last June. That is not a river. That is the street in front of my house. There is a little gully opposite our street, and when unusually heavy rains come driving across Oklahoma, that gully can't all empty into its handy little tunnel at the corner, so it backs up and becomes a swiftly flowing lake. Fortunately, it stopped at my driveway, so our basement wasn't soaked, but the road was blocked off, and for a few hours we had water-front property. Bring out the fishing poles! Stuff my pack with trail-mix! Sing Mississippi float songs! Oh wait; it's Oklahoma. You can tell that by the color: murky, red water. No, I didn't mess up in the photo shop with "tint". That's really the color of water that has brushed by Oklahoma dirt.I tried to think of something deep and meaningful to say that would tie this all together. Alas. My brain is too preoccupied with trivial things. We have company coming for lunch, and I have a million little tasks to do. Somewhere this afternoon, a great thought may rain down upon me, and I might rush over here and edit the blog. But for now. No snappy ending. No moral lesson. You are stuck...go ahead, dip your toe in the Oklahoma red water of our canal.