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Joe looked at the substitute’s notes Becky had left for him and said, “It looks like next on our fun filled frolics is examining the weather; a subject that people discuss but never seem to do anything about. When I call your row please come to the back of the classroom and sit Indian style on the rug.”

“What’s Indian style?” queried a gap toothed, dark haired boy in the middle of the room.

Joe dropped his mouth open, threw his hands up, looked at his seating chart and said, “Jeff Bigelow! Why are you blurting?” he asked with exaggerated astonishment. “Please raise your hand, my friend.” Dropping to the floor and crossing his right ankle under his left calf he said, “And Indian style is like this.”

“That’s not-”

Joe threw his right hand forward, smiled, sprang up from the ground, raised his index finger and then thrust his hand in the air.

Jeff looked at him for a second, smiled back and raised his hand in response.

“Jeff Bigelow?”

Jeff lowered his hand and said, “That’s not Indian style, it’s crisscross applesauce.”

“Crisscross applesauce? Why, I’ve never heard of such a thing! Okay, crisscross applesauce it shall be. Now, when I call your row head to the rug in the back of the room and get snug. Row number three, come on down!”

Once they were settled on the rug and sitting crisscross style Joe stated the conversation by stating the day’s date. “Okay. It is Monday, November third, nineteen eighty six. Who can tell me what it’s like outside today?”

“Sunny!” boomed half a dozen children.

“Oops! My mistake. Please raise your hand when you want to share. In fact, when I ask a question I definitely don’t want you to blurt. I want you to think about the question for a couple of seconds without blurting and without raising your hands, then I’ll say ‘pair’ and you can confab with your neighbor and when I say ‘share’ I want you to raise your hand and after all that I’ll call on someone? Copacetic?”

“What does that mean!?” Katherine blurted out.

“Right. Sorry. Copacetic means is everything clear? Are we on the same wave length, do you understand. It kind of means, is that perfect?”

“I guess,” she answered, rolling her eyes.

“Cool. Don’t forget, think, pair, share- and no blurting.”

The Hispanic boy that had asked Joe about his lunch raised his hand and Joe said, “Yes, uhm, darn it. Tell me your name again please.”

“Victor Riojas,” he answered.

“Yes, Victor Riojas, what can I do you for?”

“What’s confab?”

“Confab means confer with your neighbor, talk to him, see what he thinks. That’s the pair part. I won’t always call on the first person to raise his hand so we don’t have to throw them up in the air and wave them madly and coo, ‘Ooh, ooh, ooh! Pick me, pick me!’ I need your best answer, not your quickest. Comprendas? Understand?”

Victor’s head jerked up at the word, comprendas and he quickly blurted, “Si. Comprendo. Habla espanol, senor Kleen?”

“Whoops! No, Victor I really don’t. Sorry. We’ll need to speak English or else I’ll get lost. So when I ask a question I’ll hold up one finger and that means you should think about the question, two fingers means pair so you can talk quietly with your neighbor for a few seconds and three fingers means share, so raise your hand if you think you know the answer. Copacetic comprendan? Do you get it?”

“Yes!” chorused the class.

“Then why did you just blurt!?” Joe asked, throwing out his arms and grinning. “I tricked you. No blurting, okay? There are too many of us for chaotic caterwauling.

“Alright, now that we have the ground rules down we can play the game,” Joe said. “We know that today is Monday- Oh! Happy November! -and we all seem to agree that it is sunny. Is today hot, warm, cool or cold?” he asked, hugging his arms to himself and shivering.

“Cold!” Katherine hollered back.

“Can anyone tell me what Katherine forgot to do? Think,” he asked, holding up one finger. “Pair,” he continued, switching to two. “And share! Betty Boop, what did Katherine forget to do?”

“Think, pair, share.,And my name is Betty Carew, not Betty Boop.”

“I know. Betty Boop was from the movies. She was a famous cartoon a long time ago. Betty Boop is old. I think she’s older than my parents. I’m just playing with you, MS Carew. I do that.”

“Okay,” she answered, smiling broadly.

“But Betty is right. Let’s not blurt and let’s think, pair, share. Talk to your neighbor about today’s temperature. Ready, set, go!”

There was silence for half a second and then the students whispered amongst themselves. Joe heard some heated discussion and all four choices seemed to be being bandied about. “And share! Hands please! No blurting!”

Nearly two dozen hands were waiving in the air and Joe said, “You! In the lovely green dress. Please remind me of your name and tell me what the temperature is outside.”

The indicated girl looked down at her dress, blinked slowly three time and asked, “Me?”

“Yes, please. What’s your name?”


“Lovely name for a lovely girl who no doubt has a lovely answer. What is it like outside?”


“Really? You think it is cold? Who else thinks it is cold?”

The children looked at one another and a few half raised their hands. “Well, Melody if today is cold what will we call it when our teeth are chattering and we have to wear heavy c, c, coats because it is winter? What are the two most extreme words we have up here? Think! No hands.

After a brief pause he continued with, “Pair. And share.


“Hot and cold.”

“Correct! Melody, which two are in the middle?”

She again blinked three times slowly and then replied, “Warm and cool?”

“Perfect! I think we need to save hot for the summer time and cold for the winter, don’t you?” Melody, like much of the rest of the class nodded in response. “So that leaves us with warm and cool. Pair with your neighbor and decide is today warm or cool?

“Raise your hand if you think it is cool out?” Joe counted quickly and then added, “Okay, hands down. And raise them if you think it is warm.”

The vote was lopsided but not overwhelmingly so. “It looks as though eleven of you think it is cool and 21 of you think it is warm. That is very interesting since we only have thirty students. Either I can’t count or two of you voted twice. In any case, we have a consensus on warm. That just means most of us think it is warm but this is one of those times when we can disagree and both be right.

“Good job using think, pair, share with the weather. My friend Frank Lyman would be proud. According to our schedule we will be writing a short story together as a group. This sounds very exciting to me.

“The weather will be with us all day and into the foreseeable future but it is time for us to get a move on. We need to head back to our seats and do some writing.”