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A New Meaning of the Phrase Cloud 9

Oh, the joys of teaching.

You never know what you’re going to hear.

Such was the case this past week as my students delved into figurative language.

One thing that those who do not teach struggling readers may not understand is how superficial the knowledge is about language.

Take idioms, for instance.

Before I started teaching Intensive Reading, I took it for granted that my students knew the meaning of such phrases as “cat got your tongue” and “let the cat out of the bag.”

Not so, my friends!

We played a Kagan game called Fan and Pick where the kids take turns holding out pre-printed/cut/folded cards to people at their table.  The kids take turns reading the questions on the cards (“What is the meaning of the idiom ‘nose to the grindstone?'”).  Another person tries to answer and the fourth person gives a response to the answer once it has either been supplied.  The roles rotate, so everyone has time to fan the cards, ask the questions, answer, and provide feedback.

I had enough cards for each table to have an ample supply, and I was actually surprised, in a pleasant way, when the kids enjoyed this game.

I walked around and listened as they tried to coach each other with clues.

It was interesting to hear them try to justify why a saying didn’t make sense as they tried to connect the literal and figurative meanings of the words.

So, with all of that said, we had an interesting discussion in one of my classes when they asked about the meaning to the phrase “On cloud 9.”

After I explained the meaning, the kids said, “No, that ain’t the meaning, Mrs. AuburnChick.”

So I, being the great teacher facilitator that I am (insert rolled eyes here), asked, “Please explain what you mean.”

One student told me that it meant that you were high on drugs.

My jaw dropped.

I looked around, and most of the students in the class were nodding their heads.

I kid you not.

I’ve gotta tell you that in some ways, I led a sheltered life when I was growing up.

This doesn’t mean that I did not go through some things that nobody should ever go through, but those things did not involve knowing people who drank excessively or did drugs.  If anyone did, I was oblivious, which probably wouldn’t surprise those who know me best.


I don’t know if I’ll be able to use this phrase without thinking of the new meaning my students imparted upon my innocent mind that day.

What about you?  Have you ever heard the phrase used in this context?

Creating a Caption – Figuratively Speaking

Thursday night, I took this picture of Gambit…

As I was going into school on Friday morning, I had an idea.

I put this picture on my Smartboard and added the following information…

First of all, please forgive the handwriting.  Somewhere along the line, I missed the “Teacher Handwriting” class.

For 3rd and 4th periods, I modified my instructions to tell students to 1) Write one complete sentence that 2) Uses one figurative language device from the list and then 3) Identify the device used.

Had I completely had my act together, I would have skipped step 3, had my students exchange their papers with someone from another table, and then had the students try to identify which figurative device their partners had created.

But I didn’t.

Still, the kids had fun.

I told my students that because Gambit is Rooster’s dog, I would allow Rooster to select a winning caption from each class and then a GRAND PRIZE WINNER.  I told my students that I would give each winner a prize.

A little motivation never hurt, eh?


Rooster had a lot of fun reading the captions, and he had a difficult time selecting “winners.”  All of my students were winners in both of our books.

But winners were selected, and I thought I would share them with you:

1st Period – Two students tied!
“J” – I think he is as crazy as a werewolf.  (Rooster liked this because Gambit IS a little crazy.
“C” – “Get in the kitchen and make me a sandwich.  I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.” (Rooster liked this one because it hit on the stereotypical male mentality of telling a female to get him some food.)

3rd Period
“S” – Gambit was snoring as loud as screaming jets flying across the sky.  (Gambit is a VERY loud snorer!!)

4th Period
“S” – “Why is she bothering me.  I can never get any peace in this house!”


“C” from 1st Period!!

Here’s the picture with the caption…

“Get in the kitchen and make me a sandwich. I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.”

“C” will get a super-size candy bar in addition to the small one I bought him as a “class winner.”

Six More Weeks!

Today marks the beginning of the final six weeks of instructional time!  Woo Hoo!!

Most of the reading teachers are focusing on figurative language.  It’s a unit that’s fun and not as integral to the FCAT, so we tend to teach it after THE test.

I’m beginning the unit of study with a viewing of the movie Dead Poet’s Society.  Can you believe, but I’ve never seen it before!!

We watched the first half last Friday.

I suspect that my students think it’s a bit hokey.

That’s okay.

I plan on having a lot of fun as we discuss the various messages…how poetry and writing, in general, can become the facilitators for change…how learning to express yourself can open yourself up to new opportunities

One of the biggest themes from this movie is Carpe Diem.

I taught a unit last year on Carpe Diem, but I’m sad to say that it didn’t go over very well with certain people.

I’m thrilled that I have more freedom this year to teach about it.  I teach children who have tough lives not to mention difficulties learning.  They are often beaten down and don’t believe in themselves.

I hope that my enjoyment for language and the activities and assignments I have planned will spark curiosity and courage in even my quietest students.

One of the best things about teaching high school is watching as students begin to gain confidence and step out to affect change…in themselves and the world around them.

I don’t know about you, but I plan on seizing the day!

Carpe Diem!

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