Tuesday, November 20, 2012

How much do you think a 12-inch centipede would weigh?

One of my students actually asked me that yesterday. Welcome to my world. 
Man holding large Centipede in Trinidad

Let me remind you that I teach 8th grade English, not science. 

I get asked lots of interesting questions. For example:

Why do they say throw it away if you're not allowed to throw it?

Sometimes kids just have things on their minds other than English, and I have to stop those conversations when they try to start them:
Me: We're not going to discuss Twinkies today.
Student: Can we discuss Hot Pockets?
Lately, my honors students have been writing novels for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). This  has led to some extremely interesting questions in their search for realism in their writing.

The young man who asked me the question in the title of this post also asked me this: 
So my main character is crawling through the sewers and 3 red poisonous centipedes fall on him. What's a realistic reaction?
Red centipede
I told him my reaction would be to scream, but that might not be a realistic reaction for his macho action hero.

Another student asked me about his main character:
Student: If he's about to be attacked by a pack of wolves and he's going to shoot the alpha wolf to make the other wolves scatter, and another wolf attacks him from the side, do you think he'll die?
Me: Yes, he'll die.
Student: I don't think he'll die. The rifle gets knocked out his hands, but he's got a pistol in a holster.
Well then. I'm sure he'll be just fine. 

Of course, these questions are important to the students, so I do my best to take them seriously, even as I'm writing them down so I can share them with you. I'm not sure, but I think this next young lady is writing a zombie apocalypse story:

Student: How long will pancake mix last?
Me: Already mixed or dry?
Student: Dry.
Me: About a year. Is the box open or closed?
Student: Closed.
Me: At least a year. More in a pinch.
This is not how I pictured my life.

Student: Do Centipedes have fangs?
Me: I don't know. Maybe when you go home, you'll look that up on the Internet.
Student: Maybe. Or they could have stingers.
I don't know. Can you tell?
And finally:
I want my character to speak in Laotian in this one part, but ...{shaking his head sadly}... I don't know any Laotian.
Well, that is a problem.