Tag Archives: humor

Do You Want Fries with That?

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classroom funIt was the month of May and I had a classroom full of seniors.  I was still trying to push forward with a lesson plan, but most of my students were dreaming about the big moment when they would toss their hats into the air.  In the midst of an assignment Kyle asked to be excused to use the restroom.  Without giving it much thought I gave him my standard response, “Be back in three minutes.”

Just for the record I have to admit that in our large high school building it is impossible to reach the location of the restroom, complete your task there and return to the classroom in three minutes.  But I always warned students to be back in three minutes to try to keep the trip from expanding into 8 or even 10 minutes away from class time.

french friesBut on this particular day Kyle returned within the three-minute time limit.  He entered the classroom door behind me while I was still teaching away.  By reading the amazed looks on my students faces, I rather quickly became aware that something unusual was happening behind my back.  I turned to see what was going on.  There was Kyle walking into my classroom eating a hamburger still in a wrapper from a local restaurant.  For a few seconds I was speechless.  Kyle broke the silence as he munched on his burger.  He reached his hand out to me with a package of fries in it.

Here Mrs. E.  I brought you some fries.  They’re hot.  You better eat them now while they’re still hot.

He put them down on my desk in front of me as my students laughed tentatively and watched warily for my reaction.  I was stunned and wondering how he had accomplished this stunt in less than three minutes.

Really, Ms. E.  I made it back in three minutes.  See?  Look at the clock.  (He pointed).  I promise they’re hot.  Go ahead and take a bite;  the fries are for you.

I made a quick internal decision.  I paused several seconds…for comic effect actually…and then picked up a fry and put it in my mouth.

Ummm, they are hot.”

The class totally collapsed in laughter.  After a few minutes of mirth I continued my teaching, pausing every couple of minutes to eat another fry.  Each time I did this the giggles started again.

I never asked Kyle how he had accomplished this stunt.  It was a point of honor with me.  I like my students to think that I know what they are doing every moment, even when I’m not around.  Teacher telepathy.  It’s a part of my teacher arsenal.  I did quite a bit of internal conjecturing though.

A couple of weeks later I was invited to Kyle’s graduation party.  I had a chance to talk to Kyle’s mother while he was greeting other guests.  His mom was active in our school’s PTA.  I asked her if she had brought the hamburger and fries to school while she was in the building for a volunteer task.  She said,

He did WHAT?

It was clear from the look on her face that she was hearing this story for the first time.

Another student clued me in.  Kyle’s friend with an early dismissal pass from school had texted Kyle from the drive through line.  Kyle put in his order and then synchronized his friend’s delivery time at the back door of the school building with his own request to use the restroom.  Mission accomplished.

Given another teacher Kyle would probably have gobbled his goody in the hallway.  But this young man always enjoyed sharing a good joke with an audience.  He took a chance on my reaction.

The test data purists would probably criticize my reaction by arguing that classroom learning time was wasted.  But in May with a room full of seniors I believe I chose the appropriate response.  True, my students will never remember what I was teaching that day.  But would they have remembered that particular lesson anyway?  But this I guarantee.  If they live to be 100, they will always remember the day Kyle came walking into my classroom in the middle of the class eating a hamburger and had the audacity to give the teacher some hot fries. They will also remember me eating those fries.

That day we made a lifetime memory.  You’ve gotta’ enjoy the fun… spontaneously.  Humor always comes from an unexpected twist.

My advice?  Enjoy the fun when it comes.  Those are the moments that will stay with you AND your students forever.  For the test data collectors?   I also believe students learn best from a teacher with a sense of humor.  When we are relaxed we are receptive to new concepts.  Tension closes the brain down.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

TEACH...To Change Lives

 TEACH…To Change Lives

Available autographed or in large quantities from the author:  dauna@cinci.rr.com

Also available at Amazon.com

Contact Dauna Easley to speak to your group.  dauna@cinci.rr.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank You Notes

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thank you notesI love that section during the Tonight Show when Jimmy Fallon writes his thank you notes.  If you’ve never seen it you don’t know what you’re missing.  Tune in on a Friday night and watch him.  I wish I knew how to add some tinkling piano music to my blog site to play in the background as I write my thank you notes to my blog readers and teacher friends.

Thank you…to my readers who put up with my absences to my blog site.  You make me realize what I always suspected of my high school students.  Sometimes you like it more when I just don’t say anything.  I can’t believe how loyal my readers have been even when I have been missing in action.

Thank you…to my blog site for making me feel guilty every day of my life.  When I can’t possibly think of one more thing to write about teaching, you are still there, lurking, nagging, proving to me why I was never able to run a marathon either.

Thank you…to the preschooler who called me Mr. Beasley all year long.  You taught me about the importance of  becoming gender neutral long before society became politically correct.  Is that what you were trying to teach me?

Thank you…high school students who yearned to sleep through my class every day.  You taught me how to handle rejection and keep on going.  I can now listen to politicians and the media list the  shortcomings of teachers and the educational system in America.  I return to the classroom and keep on teaching in spite of the negativity.  You turned me into one of those punching bag clowns that just keeps popping back up. for more punches.

Thank you…software and electronic boards that always malfunction with a classroom full of students and an administrator observing in the back of the room.  You taught me flexibility and gave me the ability to BS my way out of any crisis.

Thank you…duties.  I’m talking about cafeteria, hallway, parking lot and restroom duty.  You taught me just how little a Masters Degree is worth in American schools. You taught me that duties are nothing but doodie.   As a side benefit, you kept my advanced degrees from making me arrogant.

Thank you…copy machines that don’t work.  You forced me to remember the pungent aroma of ditto machines with fondness and nostalgia.  Because of you, I value my heritage.

Thank you…to the high school students who used to tell me my shoes didn’t match, my blouse label was showing, and I had bed head in the back.  Because of your diligence in pointing out my shortcomings I could save the money I would have otherwise have had to spend on a personal stylist.

Thank you…to my teen students who made me feel I had the talents of a stand up comedian.  I remember the time I described a fabric as seersucker and you laughed for five minutes.  Who knew I could be so entertaining?

Thank you…classroom cheaters.  Because of your ingenuity and the training you provided me, I could work for the secret service, homeland security or the IRS without listing anything but my high school teaching experience on my resume.

Thank you…emails from parents.  You kept me from gaining weight as I used my lunch hour and break times to reply to your requests.  You saved me the money I would have spent at Weight Watchers and I appreciate the savings.

Thank you…teen drivers who parked “illegally” in the teachers’ parking spaces in the school parking lot.  You gave me wet hair on rainy days, frost bite in the winter and fewer papers to grade at home during the windy season.

Thank you…to all the students who used cell phones in my classroom and thought I didn’t notice.  Let me just say it now. I always saw you!  You taught me how to keep from screaming at rude people who are annoying the heck out of me.  It was a valuable life lesson.  You’ll need that lesson when you become teachers and are standing in front of a bunch of rude kids on cell phones.  It will bite you in the butt.

Thank you…to the amazing number of former students who stay in contact with me through emails, invitations to lunch and kind notes.  You make me feel that my teaching was valued in spite of the daily evidence to the contrary.  You are the reason I still write a blog for teachers even when I run out of new ideas to share.  I want you to know that you are truly one of my life’s greatest blessings.

Thank You!

TEACH...To Change Lives

TEACH…To Change Lives 

Available autographed or in large quantities from the author:  dauna@cinci.rr.com

Also available at Amazon.com

Book Dauna Easley to speak to your group:  dauna@cinci.rr.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teaching…What They Don’t Teach You in College

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Surprises for New Teachers

Teaching Duties 101Kelly, a young teacher whom I have trained, emailed me recently and said, “You’re never going to believe this, Mrs. E. Our whole district has switched to a new reading program that is 100% online.  And guess what? We are a full week into the school year and not one computer in the whole school is working.”

I believed it.  Why?  Because in some form or another while teaching I’ve lived it over and over again.

Another young teacher said recently, “I’m supposed to be ready for students the minute they walk into my classroom, but I spend half an hour before school standing hall duty!  How can I be preparing for teaching while I’m in the hall watching for fights that might break out?”

Another teacher was spending too much of her first year salary at Kinkos running off papers for her students because she spent all of her planning time fulfilling her assigned duties or waiting at the end of a long line at the copy machine.

Teacher Duties 101

teaching secretsDo  you know what would be an excellent college course for future teachers?  Duties 101.  I’d love to have the opportunity to teach that class.  Here is the truth taken from someone who has taught preschool through high school seniors.

Though it may seem like overkill to write elaborate three page, creative lesson plans while you are in college, you might as well enjoy the process.  Because once you are really teaching in your own classroom, you will never again have time for three page lesson plans.  Why?  Because you will be “on duty.”  I’m not talking patriotic duty here.  No bands will play.  No flags will furl.  We are talking low-down-and-dirty teacher duties that they never describe to you in college.  The variety is endless.

  • In elementary school there is the adventurous playground duty.  I once had a hairpiece knocked clear off my head standing playground duty!  It was my own fault.  I walked too close to the tether ball game.  Amazingly we had NO playground equipment in the first school where I taught.  Something about liability.  Hundreds of kids would pour out onto the black top for recess with nothing to do but play our one tether ball game and chase each other.  What was our job?  To keep them from chasing each other, of course. “No running on the black top!” was our constant mantra.  Our tether ball game became as vicious and competitive as ice hockey, just ask my chignon (hair piece) that flew 20 yards.  I’m lucky it was only my fake hair. Just a few inches more and I would have had to say good-bye to some of my IQ points.
  • What’s worse?  Indoor recess.  Sounds tame but don’t let it fool you.  Ask any experienced teacher.  You’ll know who they are because they are wearing hearing aids and they sport a nervous twitch.
  • Then there is the ever-to-be-avoided cafeteria duty.   In elementary school this involves using your fingers to open 213 cardboard milk cartons and poking a pointed straw through 303 drink containers in an hour.  Correct dress code for cafeteria duty?  Hand-me-down duds that ketchup and food fight stains won’t bother, skid proof shoes that keep you from falling on your tush while sliding on spills, and ear plugs to protect your hearing from the animated lunch room ‘conversations’.  Your only protection will be the whistle around your neck.  We give teachers whistles when they really need fire hoses.  It builds their resourcefulness.
  • Bus duty is another thriller.  In my first life as an elementary teacher I thought this was the bottom of the barrel.  I was wrong (more on that later).  Elementary bus duty involved hundreds of kids swinging book bags larger than their bodies, darting this way and that between cars and buses as they scream comments to their friends.  Our local voters turned down 4 school tax levies in a row.  I feel so sorry for the kindergarten teachers who give up not only their lunch time but their before and after school planning time to carry umbrellas as they herd scores of five-year-olds through the rain  to their cars four times each day.
  • Teenagers take duties to a whole new depth.  There is restroom duty.  I fondly call this one ‘smoker’s duty.’  What happens?  A previously healthy teacher stands in a restroom full of adolescent hormones breathing more smoke than someone at a happy hour held in a tobacco barn.  Smoke flows from over and under every stall door.  Each and every time you approach a smoker they question your right to accuse them of anything.  Their attorney dad is already on their cell phone before they exit the stall.
  • Once I was assigned morning hall duty in a high school.   On this sacred duty a teacher spends every  minute of their class preparation time, not preparing.  I stood at an unlocked door asking students to show me their ID badges.  One hundred percent of the time they told me their ID badges were in their lockers.  At that time I was to direct them to the cafeteria door where there were other teachers stationed “on duty’ to supervise them.  One hundred percent of the time they claimed they were on their way to the cafeteria.  But my assignment issued from school administrators as a hall duty monitor is to NOT allow them in that doorway.  During those before school hours teens called me everything but a teacher.  By the time school would begin for the day I had the self-esteem of a roach.  I wonder why that door couldn’t have been locked?

shy?

  • Bottom of the barrel?  I swear I’ve done the research and this one is it.  High school parking lot duty!  Picture this.  During the last class of the day you have a six-foot-four 300 pound varsity football player mad at you because he doesn’t like the midterm grade he earned in your class.  Five minutes later the bell rings and you have to run outside in the sleet to stand in the center of the main driveway though which all students exit.  The same dude drives his two thousand-pound car right up to you.  He honks his horn for you to move.  You jump a foot high but stand your ground. You are, after all, ‘on duty’. You tell him lamely that you are not permitted to allow any students’ cars to leave until the buses pull out.  He revs his motor and inches his automobile right up against your thigh.  You can read his lips through his windshield.  You know in detail every expletive he is screaming at you, and you’re tying to remember if he wore his weapon-disguising trench coat to school that day.  Moments like these make me dream about the days when I taught preschool.
  • In preschool the only duties that are distasteful are wiping snot and hearing the proud little voice ring out from the potty area.   “Teeeeacher, I pooped.  Come and wipe my butt.”  The polite ones even say, “please.”  High school parking lot duty makes me remember preschool poop-wiping fondly.

I swear I’m not making any of this up.  Not… one… word.  But in writing it out, I’ve just come to a revelation about why we don’t teach these important details in college.  We don’t want to drive great people away from an already challenging profession.  We have to keep future teachers in the dark until we reel them in and they fall in love with the profession.  And the right ones will.

We have only one defense strategy, but it is powerful.  We have to laugh.  We somehow have to focus on the difference we can make in students’ lives and just laugh about the rest of the madness.   Find a fellow teacher with a positive attitude who is committed to students and laugh together.  If we let the insanity of the duties consume us, we will forget the real reasons we were drawn to this meaningful profession.   We are in the classroom to change lives.  Not one other profession in the world has the day-to-day power we have to improve lives.  Laugh at the nonsense and focus all of your efforts  on making a positive change in the lives of  your students.  Take it from a very experienced teacher looking back on a long career.  You will be forever grateful that you did.

TEACH…To Change Lives

Available at Amazon.com

Humor in the Classroom

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Funny Stories from My Classroom

It’s Labor Day which means school has begun for just about everyone.  I’ve taught almost all age levels, preschool through high school seniors…and now college student interns, learning to teach.  I have the true and funny stories to prove it.

The Obvious Question

It was close to Thanksgiving.  I had been sharing a book of turkey riddles with my preschool class.  The following day we visited a supermarket for a tour and to talk about foods our families might serve for Thanksgiving. In each department there was a spokesperson who talked to the young children briefly about their area of the store.  The lady in the produce section let the preschoolers spray water on the fruits and vegetables.  Big hit with the kids!  In the bakery department they had the chance to sample a cookie.  Yum.  But the head of the meat department clearly had no experience with preschoolers.  His talk included technical terms about meat inspections, USDA requirements, meat temperatures, and how meats were classified.  The class grew very restless, but the speaker seemed unaware. At last it appeared that he was going to release us to the next department.  We were all anxious to move on.  But before we left his area he asked one last thing. ”

Do any of you boys and girls have a question about meat?

Chris raised his hand.  I was stunned.  What could this four-year-old possible want to ask about meat that our tour guide hadn’t already over-explained?

Yes, son?

All the teachers turned to listen.  Chris’ question was thankfully simple.

Why did the turkey cross the road?

The teachers broke into laughter.  The guy from the meat department was finally speechless.

funny classroom stories

Keep Searching

I was teaching an important lesson about diversity to my high school seniors who were future early childhood educators.  We were discussing the importance of choosing preschool toys and materials that are sensitive to the diverse backgrounds of the children we serve.  I warned them to reject items that weren’t gender sensitive in today’s world, such as books and puzzles that always depicted a doctor as male and a nurse as female.

I cautioned my students to make certain all ethnic backgrounds were included in the main characters of stories and materials.  “Also look carefully to be certain that toys and materials include children with special needs,” I said.

Their comments showed they were enthusiastic about this topic. I ended the class with an assignment.  The students were given a ‘make-believe budget” of $500.00 and told to search through catalogs and find items sensitive to a diverse population.  Only politically correct toys would do.

Way in the back of the room, Jennifer started right away.  But she was turning pages just as quickly as she could.  I silently wondered how she could even evaluate the toys at that rate; so I said,

Jennifer, you look like a woman on a mission.  Can you see the items flipping the pages that quickly? 

Her reply?

Don’t anybody bother me, I’m looking for fat Barbies.

classroom humorDelicious Recipe

It was right at the end of a long school day in my third grade classroom.  I was putting my students through our closing chores as they prepared to go home.  I gave my directions without giving it much thought.

Be sure to put your chairs up on top of your desks and pick up any debris.

Eight-year-old Bobby seemed puzzled when he asked,

What’s debris?

                                         My reply was also pretty impromptu.

                                                     Debris is left over stuff.

You could see understanding appear in Bobby’s eyes as he said,

Oh yeah, my mom fixes debris for supper sometimes.

funny calssroom storiesFollow the Rules!

I was preparing a group of teens to travel out-of-town for an educational conference.  I spoke to them seriously about our stay in a hotel.

                         No one is ever to be in the hotel hallway alone. 

                   Even if you’re just going for a bucket of ice, take a partner.

Never talk to strangers or enter the room of someone you’ve just met, no matter how nice they seem.

The atmosphere of my classroom was very sober…just the way I wanted it to be.  It is a big responsibility taking teens out-of-town for several days to stay in a hotel.  I never took this part of the job lightly.

At precisely that moment there was a knock on my classroom door.  A man from the technology department whom I had never met before, was looking for the room that housed the media brain of our building.  That particular door is somewhat hidden.  You must pass through another room that has no posted room number in order to find it.  I tried to describe the process to him, but he was still confused.  I stepped outside my classroom door, walked a few feet down the hall, opened the unmarked door and escorted him inside, to point to the door he was trying to find.  I was back to my classroom in seconds.

My classroom was completely quiet, still sober from our previous conversation.   Then one of my girls with a twinkle in her eye spoke up bravely and said,

Excuse me, Mrs. Easley, but didn’t we just see you leave your friends and go into a room alone with a strange man who you didn’t even know?

For a second I didn’t smile.  I tried to stay stern.  But it was a hopeless cause.  We dissolved into giggles, then laughter, then finally guffaws.  Tears streamed down our faces. My safety lecture is one they (and I) will never forget.

TEACG

Read about ways to help students create success in life.

TEACHTo Change Lives.

Now available at Amazon.com

Don’t Ever Do This

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don't ever do thisBad Idea

I was a teacher for decades.  So I know a bad idea when I hear one.  As bad ideas go, this one was a whopper.  My high school students were brainstorming trying to come up with a fun activity for one of our Future Educators Association meetings.  Everything I suggested was rejected.  They wanted something new and exciting.  I thought my ideas were creative.  They looked at me like I was twice baked boredom in a casserole dish.

“I know,” said one of them, “Let’s have a paint fight!”

“Wrong!” I proclaimed loudly as they cheered right over the top of my voice.  “BAD idea!” I repeated even more loudly when their cheering died down. They begged.  They pleaded.  They gave me rationale after rationale.  I rejected every plea and promise they made.  I wasn’t born yesterday.  I talked about safety, the mess, the pandemonium,  the lunacy, the clean up and the liability.  I was eloquent.

Eventually they gave up.  NOT!  This argument and plea bargaining went on for months.  On and on they argued.  I said we couldn’t possibly do it at school.  They said we could go to a park.  I pointed out what the park personnel would think about us messing up their property and the court case that would follow.  I talked about how it would ruin their clothes.  They claimed we could make paint shirts.  I said that would be fine.  They said, “But only if we are wearing the shirts when we throw the paint to make them.”  NO!   Back to square one.  This argument became the theme for the year.

After months of debate two things finally happened.  They came up with an answer to every objection and I totally lost my mind…simultaneously.  The end of the school year arrived. Some crazy wonderful parents volunteered their home which had a large empty field behind it.  They had a power sprayer for clean up and then a pool for further cool off and a grill for cooking a picnic while the shirts dried.  The plan was on.    We all purchased black t-shirts.  Each student was to bring in two or three colors of paint in plastic bottles. The brighter the better.  It was a neon kind of a day.

The attendance?  You guessed it.  100%!

The smartest girl of the day was Erica.  She showed up with wearing swim goggles.  Why didn’t I think of that?  Don’t EVER try this activity without requiring goggles. I can’t claim that I was smart enough to outlaw this event.  BUT I was smart enough to clip my shirt to the clothes line and tell them to decorate it as it hung on the line.  Meanwhile I stood close to the pool and told them that NO PAINT could enter the pool area.  I gave them a half-dozen rules which they promptly ignored and yelled,  “GO!”

a bad idea

There was laughing, screaming, running, pandemonium and the biggest mess you ever saw in the vacant field. Two wonderful parents stayed patient and laughed through all of this.  They spent forever spraying them off with the power washer.  Some students had to even use their indoor showers to keep the paint from coloring their hair permanently.   Results?  No one was hurt.  It is a favorite memory of everyone including me.

Every time I paint anything I grin as I wear my crazy paint shirt souvenir of that day.  My grandkids always admire my shirt.  They want one just like it.  I’ve already bought the black shirts.  Guess what I’m going to do with my grandkids on the first day of summer vacation?  But NO they won’t be wearing the shirts when they splatter the paint.  A gal can only take one adventure with that much insanity.

Moments Matter

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Making the Most of Moments

I’ve heard it said that we don’t remember days, we remember moments.  As I think back over my own life I believe that’s true.  The good news is moments take less time than elaborate events and time is a commodity most of us have in short supply.  Most moments that mean much to us simply evolve spontaneously.  But as we build a life of value, embracing the moments when they happen means a great deal.

I remember one significant moment in my life that didn’t even involve a single word. My youngest daughter, Kelsey endured two long battles with cancer.  During her second battle in her teen years while I drove her to the hospital for treatments, I knew she was uptight about all that would transpire, though she never would verbalize her fears.

I fell into the habit of putting my hand on her knee as we drove to the hospital.  One time as we drove there I was lost in my own silent thoughts of dread and I didn’t put my hand on her knee.  After a while she quietly picked up my hand and placed it on her knee.  No words at all.  But we were then connected.  She was telling me she was scared but didn’t want to talk about it. She was telling me that she needed me present with her. It was a moment I will never forget.

Another lighter moment happened in my classroom as I was preparing my teen students to go on a trip out-of-town for an educational conference.  I spoke to them seriously about our upcoming stay in a hotel.  No one was ever to be in the hotel hallway alone.

“Even if you are just going for a bucket of ice, you must have a partner with you,”  I warned.  “Never talk to strangers or enter the room of someone you’ve just met no matter how nice they seem.” I continued sternly.  The atmosphere was very sober as I wanted it to be.

At precisely that moment there was a knock on my classroom door.  A man wearing the uniform of the technology department whom I had never seen before, was looking for the room which housed the media brain of our building.  That particular door is somewhat hidden.  You must pass through another room that has no posted room number in order to find it.  I tried to describe the process to him, but he was still confused.  I stepped outside my classroom, walked a few feet down the hall, opened the unmarked door and escorted him inside to point out the door he was trying to find.  I was back in my classroom in seconds.

One of my female students with a gleam in her eye said, “Excuse me, Mrs. Easley.  Didn’t we just see you leave your friends and go into a room with a strange man who you didn’t even know?”  I tried to stay serious but the whole classroom dissolved into laughter.  What followed was an out-and-out giggle fit that went on and on.  Every time I tried to get the class back on track someone would start laughing again, usually me.

It was a spontaneous moment that none of us will ever forget.  I’m sure long after I’m dead and buried if those students get together to talk about old times, one of them will say, “Do you remember the time Mrs. Easley left the class and went off with a strange man?”  And they’ll laugh again.

What makes me proud?  I was “present” in those moments.  I connected with Kelsey’s message when she needed me.  And I collapsed in laughter when that was the only response needed.  I embraced the moments.  That’s why those moments will live forever.

This is an excerpt taken from my upcoming book:    Teach     To Change Lives 

Great Recipe

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A Child’s Perspective

It was the end of a long, busy day in my third grade classroom.  Children were busily getting ready to go home.

      “Be sure to put your chairs on top of your desks and pick up any debris that you see,”  I reminded.

Bobby looked puzzled.  “What’s debris?” he said.

“Debris is leftover stuff,” was my impromptu reply.  I glanced at him to see if he heard me.

“Oh yeah,” he said with understanding spreading across his face.  “My mom fixes debris for

supper sometimes.”

(Yes, this actually happened in my classroom.  Reprinted from my book Teachers Touch Eternity).