Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Moments with Joey – Journals

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SCENE 1, INTERIOR. FRIDAY AFTERNOON, FIFTH GRADE CLASSROOM. The school day has ended. All of the students have left for the day. A teacher and a fifth-grade boy sit at the back table. The teacher is entering grades as the boy is finishing up his math assignment. From time to time the boy asks questions about how to do certain problems. Before long, the boy is finished and looks expectantly at his teacher.

JOEY:
I’m finished with my Math homework.

TEACHER
: Good job. Now, what about your journal entry?

[Joey shakes his head and takes out a blank piece of paper. He stares at it for nearly a minute.]


JOEY:
[Mutters in a low voice to the paper]. I hate journal entries. [Pauses, still looking at the paper].

TEACHER:
The sooner you get it done, the better you’ll feel.

[Joey glances up for a moment, sighs, and stares back at the paper].


TEACHER
: Remember what I told you before? If you had a big dinner to eat: lasagna, a roll, mashed potatoes, milk, green beans, and piece of chocolate cake—and you had to eat everything—what would you eat first?

JOEY:
The chocolate cake.

TEACHER:
Ah…but if you ate the chocolate cake first, you wouldn’t have it to enjoy later on.

[Joey sits up a bit straighter and smiles].


JOEY:
I’d eat the cake first, the lasagna next, then I’d eat the potatoes, eat the roll, and then drink the milk.

TEACHER: But then all you’d have left to enjoy after that is the green beans. Would you like that taste in your mouth to finish it all up?

[Joey pauses and glances at the ceiling. He drops his gaze and leans in close].

JOEY:
But what if I die?

TEACHER:
What do you mean, ‘what if I die?’

JOEY:
You know…what if I died? I mean, if I did then I’d have already eaten the good stuff. I wouldn’t want to die after eating green beans. [Shudders].

TEACHER:
And what if you don’t die? You’d still have the green beans to eat at the end. [Pauses]. If you get the stuff you don’t like out of the way first, you’ll have the good stuff to enjoy later. Like the food; if you do the homework, chores, or whatever it is you don’t like the most first, you get it over with and then have the ‘good stuff’ to look forward to.

[Joey looks from his teacher down to his mathematics textbook which is closed on the table].


JOEY:
I love math.

TEACHER:
I know, but you already did it. Now what do you have to do?

JOEY:
Writing.

[Joey stares at the blank paper again and then at the ceiling].


JOEY:
What I hate about journal entries is that they’re hard to write. [The teacher says nothing and the boy continues his thought]. I can’t ever think of ideas; I just sit there for a long time…then I just start thinking of other things.

TEACHER:
Other things?

JOEY:
Yeah. When I’m at my desk, I think of what to write and before I know it, my thoughts just fly away…like bugs flying over a dead animal.

TEACHER:
So write about writing. [The boy looks puzzled, so the teacher continues]. Write a journal entry about how hard it is to write a journal entry…Like this: ‘I hate writing journal entries. They are so hard for me to write. I sit there for a long time and I find myself thinking about other things. When I sit at my desk, I think of what to write and my thoughts just fly away…’

JOEY:
Like bugs flying over a dead animal.

TEACHER:
Uh…sure.

JOEY:
So I can just write about not liking writing?

TEACHER:
Yep. Just write what you were telling me; after all writing is just talking on paper.

[Joey begins to write and is talking aloud as he does so. He writes his first paragraph rather laboriously. He pauses to examine what he’s written. Soon it is time for him to go].


SCENE 2, INTERIOR. MONDAY MORNING, FIFTH GRADE CLASSROOM.
The school day has not yet begun. The teacher is getting ready before the bell rings. As he is writing the vocabulary exercises on the board for the morning, the door opens and in walks one of his students. It is Joey. He is smiling as broadly as the Cheshire Cat. He stands in the doorway and then marches up to his teacher. He thrusts a notebook into his teacher’s hands.

TEACHER: What’s this?

JOEY:
My journal entry.

TEACHER:
[Surprised] You finished it?

JOEY:
Yep!

TEACHER:
Good job, Joey, I’m proud of you.

JOEY:
It took me three whole days to finish!

TEACHER:
Three whole days?

JOEY:
Yep! Just like I said here at the end. [Points to the end of the paper]. I worked on it on Friday, Sunday, and I finished it this morning.

TEACHER:
Wow, three whole days?

JOEY:
Yeah [Laughs]. Mostly because I kept putting it off. I kept sitting on my bed writing…well, trying to write. Mostly I just looked at the sheet of paper.

TEACHER:
How many times did you rewrite your name on the top?

JOEY:
Two…or three. I wanted it to look really good.

TEACHER:
I’m impressed. I can read whose it is.

[Joey smiles and begins to dance from foot to foot].


JOEY:
Are you gonna read it?

TEACHER:
In a few minutes…

JOEY:
I made a lot of mistakes, but I caught myself too…I was like, ‘nooooooooooo’ [makes swooshing sound]. I realized that I didn’t need that little thingy.

TEACHER:
Which thingy?

JOEY:
The curvy thingy above words.

TEACHER:
The apostrophe?

JOEY:
Yeah, that thingy. Then I was like, ‘I need a capital here, and I need a period there…and I crossed off that right there [points to a section of the paper] and that should be capitalized but I forgot. Then I also spelled ‘correcting’ wrong—along with a few other words.

TEACHER:
How’d you know they were misspelled?

JOEY:
They looked weird…but when I tried to fix some of the words they looked even weirder.

TEACHER:
What could you have done to find the right words?

JOEY:
Uh…looked it up in the dictionary?

TEACHER:
Bingo!

[Joey pauses and cocks his head to one side, thinking. After a moment or two of silence he asks:].


JOEY:
Would a law dictionary have worked? That’s the only one we had in the house.

TEACHER:
Probably not. Wait, a law dictionary? You planning on becoming a lawyer?

JOEY:
Maybe….so, you going to read it?

TEACHER:
Sure.

[The teacher commences reading with the boy proudly looking on].


jurnul entre by Joey Joey Joey

I hate jurnul entres, they’re hard to write. When I am at my desk sitting there, my thoughts fly like kids runing to cake.


Did you know that I had to forc myself to writ this paper? Thats how much I hate jurnul
entres. I would rather buy a whip and beat myself half to death than write this jurnul entry. But I have to do it.

This jurnul
entre is about how bad and scrambled I am at writting jurnul entres. Im serious, I forget commas, capitalzation, and I spell stuff rong all the time. My ideas our all over the place, like Im talking about dogs for the next two lines then somehow I’m talking about space. That’s how scrambled my ideas are.

It took me three days to write this and it s only this whole page Seriously it’s sort of hard. I’m tring to get this in before mr Z is done corecting them. He say, “It’s a real hassul.” So I’m going to finish it. And I did.


TEACHER:
Three whole days?

JOEY:
Yep! Just like I said at the end...and I didn’t even die.

TEACHER:
Well, hooray for green beans.

Fade to black.

9 comments:

Bee said...

Love it!! Only another writing teacher (or parent)fully gets this story!

Farscaper said...

LOL LOL LOL!!!!
I love kids and the way they think.

I tell my kids the same thing - about doing the yucky stuff first so the only thing left is the fun stuff. I don't think they've quite "got it" yet but I keep reminding them.

Linn said...

Oh lovely, lovely. This was just fabulous!

Holms TP said...

You should seriously consider turning these all into short acts and publish them!

Kris said...

That was great. When I read these I have to think of your voice saying that stuff. Makes me laugh, because I know inside you are laughing too.

Gerb said...

This was awesome.

At the end of the school year do you think you could ask Joey if you can keep his journal? And then, for Christmas, can I have it? Along with a fat, red pen? I could stay busy for days.

hintonrae said...

Joey's a writer and doesn't know it...such wonderful figurative language in that little piece, such great creative expression. You're doing an awesome job pulling that out of your students, esp. on the 5th grade level.

summer said...

the stories with joey remind me of the great episodes of Seinfield... jumbled jargon about everything and anything in between...they all produce huge smiles and great big laughs. be sure to do something with these gems!

birdeeb said...

"But then all you’d have left to enjoy after that is the green beans. Would you like that taste in your mouth to finish it all up?"

LOL I love it! So true! ;o) So you are writing a play? I like it. Elwon is still acting in UT...I miss going to his plays! I was reading my blog tonight & I thought...maybe I shared to much LOL. And I saw what "the teacher" said about some things need to left unsaid...makes me want to edit some things because I know some people may read it that may be grossed out LOL (like mother-in-law or sister-in-laws...) I was tempted to put DISCLAIMER WARNING: If you are related to said people in this story please move onto the next paragraph...LOL ;o) Great blog man ;o)

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