In our elementary schools we have teacher-led P. E. The good thing about this situation is that I can still wear professional clothes when I substitute teach as it is only a small portion of the teaching day.
Along with the other sub plans, the fourth grade teacher left “Hot Potato” as the teacher P. E. class for the day. P. E. followed an intense after lunch math double period wherein the students were supposed to be “reviewing” equivalent fractions. In my attempt to make a visual picture on the whiteboard to explain the concept of equivalent fractions, I drew a lopsided circle and divided it into what was supposed to be halves. I erased it. I thought I could do better with squares. I couldn’t. It only got worse. I never realized how poor my geometric shapes were until I tried to show visually that 2/6 equals 1/3 and 2/8 is 1/4. And forget the tenths and twelfths.
“That doesn’t look like the same size to me,” one particularly observant young man informed me and the rest of the class.
“Use your imagination,” I instructed. Or just believe me, I thought. This is supposed to be review, according to the teacher’s plans. “This worksheet is review,” I reminded the students, although I am a visual learner too.
But back to my teacher P. E. Hot Potato. I can do Hot Potato, I told myself. Potato, potato…I just need a potato.
“The ball we use for Hot Potato is in the classroom closet,” the Class Informant told me and then ran to the locked closet, yanking on the doorknob.
“Oh,” I said. “The locked classroom closet for which I have no key.” The Informant turned to look at me. “No worries,” I told the Informant. “We just look for a sweet potato.”
“Huh?” the class asked in unison.
I searched the desk and found a plastic pencil box. I emptied the box and told the students to form a circle, sitting on the carpet at the front of the classroom. Music, I need music. I’d hate to have to recite Hamlet’s soliloquy for it would fall upon unappreciative ears.
“We use a tape player,” the Informant told me. One that wasn’t in that blasted locked closet, thank goodness.
“Okay,” I told my fraction fried darlings, as they made the tightest circle I have ever seen. “I will play the music and stop it and whoever has the “potato” is out, understood?”
“Oh, we know how to play,” the Informant assured me.
Yes, I thought, but I’m not looking when I play and stop the music. This saves me from any discussion of playing favorites. I didn’t have to worry, though. As I stopped the music, 30 children pointed to the one who was out.
So I continued to watch my time to be able to fit in Social Studies class after this. The students who were out would not sit in their seats. They preferred to crowd a circle that was much worse than any I had drawn on the board during math class to cheer on their fellow students. The noise level rose considerably until a winner was announced by the Informant. I was exhausted. I guess this is P. E….but for whom?