After the first round of estimating using the Frank Lyman approved think, pair, share method Joe had again closed the door to the hallway. Think, pair, share seemed to be a success but it was definitely noisy. Joe found it easy to adapt the math book’s dry lesson plan to a group activity where the students could share thoughts and insights with one another as well as with him and as the lesson progressed he was pleased to note that even the die hard, hardcore blurting students had modified their behavior.
“One last estimation problem and then it’s story time. What would we do if we had to estimate seven plus eight plus ten?” Joe asked as he wrote on the board, “7 + 8 + 10 ” in a horizontal line. The class sat poised in ready anticipation as Joe held up his right index finger, “Think, think, think,” he said quietly and quickly.
“Okay,” he said, adding his middle finger to his index and splaying them in a ‘V’ for victory sign, “pair.”
At every cluster of tables children spoke in subdued tones to one another. Joe counted to thirty in his head and then held up three fingers and said, “Share!”
He suppressed a smile as nearly every child in the room silently reached for the sky. Pointing to Jeff Bigelow he asked, “Jazzy Jeff without the Fresh Prince how did you arrive at you answer?”
Jeff’s head went back in surprise. “Huh?”
“Not a hip-hop fan, huh?” Joe said with a grin. “I asked, how did you come up with your answer?”
“I don’t know? The answers twenty five?”
“Jeff, Jeff, Jeff. The answer isn’t the answer, the process is the answer. The how do we do it? You are correct. A great answer is twenty five.
“Let’s pair one more time. I want to know what you did, not what the answer is,” he responded, again throwing the two fingered peace sign back toward the ceiling.
Joe only did a short ten count for this round and then said, “Share. Lovely Linda, how did you come up with your answer?”
“I added five plus ten plus ten.”
“Well that certainly makes twenty five,” Joe replied. “Why did you do that?”
“Because seven is a little more than five, eight is a little less than ten and ten is, well, ten.”
“Works for me. Who did it differently?”
Melody languidly raised her left hand and tilted her head toward it. “And Miss Melody. What did you do?”
“I added ten plus ten plus ten and took away five.”
“Both good strategies. Okay. That is about enough of estimating for today. Please slip your math books into your desks and I will do one of my favorite things for you: Read!
“Leave your desks where they are,” Joe added. “We can rearrange them right before lunch. Mrs. Feldt left us A Cricket in Times Square and it looks like Chester and Tucker have something going on.
“Trey, would you please help Katherine hand out the lunch chips?”
Joe began reading where Rebecca had left off and started right in using a nasally voice when music teacher Mr. Smedley spoke. Heads reared back and children smiled but composure was mostly retained. Behind him Katherine was instructing Trey in the fine art of lunch chip distribution.
“We’ll do hot lunch first,” she whispered to him. “Take this to Veronica,” she added, pointing to the red slip under Veronica’s name and plucking a red chip from the pile on Mrs. Feldt’s desk.
When Joe moved on in Cricket to Mrs. Bellini answering Mr. Smedley Joe used an exaggerated, high pitched, Italian accented voice which caused many of the children in the room to laugh out loud. He continued reading and spontaneously created distinctive voices for each character. When Tucker spoke Joe slipped into his best John Wayne impersonation to vocally portray the little mouse, even adding in an unwritten, “pilgrim,” at the end of one of his sentences.
Joe read while Trey distributed the red lunch chips under Katherine’s careful and didactic direction. The children were attentive listeners and their laughter indicated that they were both engaged in the story and enjoying themselves when the pleasant atmosphere was pierced by a voice insisting, “Hey! I didn’t get hot! I got alternate!”
Joe looked up from his book and over at the disruptive child and asked, “Problem?”
“Yeah! I don’t want a red chip! I want green,” he added. “I hate Salisbury steak!”
“Relax please, uhm, sorry,” Joe apologized. “Tell me your name again please.”
“J.R. And I got green, not red.”
Trey piped in with, “I’m just taking the chips to where Katherine tells me. I didn’t do it!”
“He has red in his slot!” Katherine said heatedly. “I didn’t do anything!”
“Whoa!” Joe exclaimed, rising out of his chair, replacing the bookmarker and closing Cricket. “Hang on here. J.R., are you sure you selected alternate?”
“Positive! I hate Salisbury steak,” he shuddered for effect and added, “It’s worse than meatloaf.”
“Mr. Kleen, I took red out of his slot! He had red!”
“Katherine, please calm down,” Joe commanded as he walked to the lunch selection area. “Trey, Katherine, thank you. Please sit.”
“But I didn’t do anything wrong!” she whined.
“No one said you did,” Joe elongated the word ‘did,’ whining it back at her. “Please sit. Thank you. Okay, we have like three minutes. If you selected hot lunch raise your hand. Okay, keep them up please! We have two red chips left. Who hasn’t gotten their red chip yet?”
“I haven’t,” Katie replied, waving her hand.
“Me neither,” Rubin added.
“Trey, Katherine; I lied. Come back up here- Trey take one chip to Rubin, Katherine take one to Katie, please.
“So everybody got red who is supposed to but J.R. got red and he was supposed to get green. Okay, if you are green, raise your hand.” Seven students including J.R. raised their hands. Joe counted six green chips. “J.R., hold tight a minute. If I call your name for green stand up please.” Joe called the six names that held green slips and told Trey and Katherine to distribute the six green chips.
“If you have your chip please line up silently.”
“Mr. Kleen?” Trey said, “Red needs to line up first, then green, yellow, milk and last none.”
“Okay. Thanks, Trey. Red in front, except J.R., then green. If you are pizza please raise your hands.” Joe checked the board, confirmed the one to one correlation between pizza selectors and pizza seekers, had Trey and Katherine distribute the yellow pizza chips and then said, “Milk?”
Trey answered, “Yes, sir?”
“Pardon me?” Joe asked perplexed. “Oh! I said, ‘milk,’ not ‘Milks!’ If you need milk raise your hand! Once the milk were distributed he said everyone but J.R. lone up!”
“Mr. Kleen,” Katherine wailed, “The other classes are leaving!”
“Thank you, Katherine! J.R., you can’t eat Salisbury steak just this once?”
“Oh, please no,” he said, eyes opened wide in horror. “I’ll throw up!”
“Did anybody change his red for a green?” Joe asked. No one responded and he added, “Nobody?”
Craig’s hand went up and Joe said, “Did you change from red to green, Craig?”
“Oh! No, sir! But I’ll trade J.R. I don’t mind Salisbury steak.”
“You will?” Joe smiled broadly. “That is very generous of you! You two switch chips. And get in the right part of the line. Okay, Mrs. Feldt’s class if you want lunch I need a straight, quiet line pronto, tontos!”