J Is for Funny

From time to time during the last 2 years, I found I needed to take study breaks … often … especially on days when the task was reading up to 120 pages of dull, boring academic texts that could have used a few Far Side cartoons to liven them up. I took my comedy breaks by checking out Muppets or Victor Borge or Animaniacs or … something goofy on YouTube then posting my discoveries on my Facebook page for everyone else to enjoy. The jokes broke the academic monotony with a burst of funny antics, so J is for Funny.

I’ve been fond of jokes of different sorts for much longer than 2 years. As a teacher, I put all kinds of jokes to good use. I tossed puns around in class to see who would get it. Math problems would star characters like Rex Karz and Jim Nasium. My favorite books to read to my class during restroom breaks were Bruce Hale’s Chet Gecko series. Editing prompts to practice grammar involved hokey kid jokes like…

What do you call a sleeping bull?

 A bull dozer.  😀

Using jokes for editing prompts started out as a goofy way to get kids interested in doing DOLs (Daily Oral Language … or editing grammatically messed up text), but a few years into my career, I discovered another great use for them. Unlike a lot of teachers, I speak some Spanish. I’m not half proficient enough to teach in Spanish, but I could give basic commands, and I could understand notes from parents and write notes back, plus or minus some monkeyed up grammar. So, frequently, the principal would assign kids to my class who were not entirely English-proficient, but proficient enough that they didn’t belong in the bilingual class any more.

One year, I had a student who loved jokes. He was a joker extraordinaire, but his jokes didn’t work as well in English because the puns and plays on words didn’t translate well. Every morning, when he came into class, he would read the editing prompt on his desk and try to puzzle out what it meant and why it was funny. For more than half a year, he didn’t quite get it figured out, but when it was time to go over the prompt as a group, he never failed to ask for clarification on why the joke worked.

He also checked out every English-language joke book the library had, and sometimes he’d bring it to lunch and have his friends explain the jokes to him. If they couldn’t, he’d find me on the recess field and ask me.

Then one morning, he came in, unpacked, and started puzzling out the joke. He smiled and jumped up. “Miss! Miss! I get it! I get why it’s funny!” Then he explained it to me and spent the rest of the day telling every other teacher we came across the joke.

(c) 2012 Denish C // Used unchanged on this date under Flickr Creative Commons

(c) 2012 Denish C // Used unchanged on this date under Flickr Creative Commons

By the end of the year, he was much more proficient in idiomatic language.

For your next clue… K is for Sneeze.


2 thoughts on “J Is for Funny

  1. Sounds like you – any available tool to get a kid to learn!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s