Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Run-ins and Run-ons

“Naomi, you need to get out some paper and a pencil,” I whispered.

“I am!” Naomi hissed back.  But she continued to stack, rearrange, and restack her notebooks on the desk.

The day’s assignment was projected on the Smartboard at the front of the room.  Three paragraphs full of run-on sentences were displayed.  The kids were supposed to rewrite the paragraphs and correct the errors.  I looked around the room and saw everyone had already worked through two or three sentences. 

I continued walking around the classroom checking on other kids, but kept looking back at Naomi.  She was working on a new career in design, her desk being her first big project.  She took a break from her work to look around and watch everyone else work.  As she casually gazed around the room, her eyes eventually came to me, and she noticed I was staring back at her.  When Naomi just stared back at me, I started walking towards her.  She quickly opened her notebook and took out a piece of paper.  As I reached her desk, though, she suddenly stood up.

“Where are you going?” I asked.

“I have to blow my nose.”

I stood by Naomi’s desk and watched her leisurely amble through the other students to the tissue box at the front of the room.  After pulling out several tissues, she turned around, breathed in deeply, and gave the class a Shakespearian performance of blowing her nose several times.  When she finished, she regally walked to the other side of the room to deposit her tissues in the wastebasket.

I waited for her to come back to her desk, but Naomi had a second scene to perform.  She walked back over to the tissue box but reached for the bottle of hand sanitizer sitting next to it.  She carefully pumped the liquid into her hand and turned to show everyone her skills as she slowly worked the clear disinfectant into her hands. 

When she turned to pump another squirt, I called out, “Naomi!”

She startled and looked back, exaggerating bewilderment.  “What?”

I tapped her paper.  “Now.”

Several students had stopped working to watch.  As Naomi slowly made her way through the aisles back to her desk, she sighed and rolled her eyes.

She sat down at her desk, and I asked, “Do you know what you’re supposed to do?”

“Yes.”  She was hissing again.

I turned and started my cruise around the room again.  It took about five minutes to work my way back to Naomi.  Her paper was still blank.

“You told me you knew what you were supposed to do,” I whispered.

“I forgot,” Naomi hissed back.

“See those paragraphs up front.  They are full of run-on sentences.  I want you to re-write them and fix the run-ons.”

“Oh.  OK.”

I journeyed around the room again, but found Naomi’s paper still blank when I got back.  As I approached her desk, Naomi suddenly raised her hand signaling she had a question for me.

“What?” I whispered.

“What’s a run-on sentence?” she hissed.   

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