Thursday, January 31, 2008


The Past Tense Irregular Verb battles wrapped up last week, always arriving right in time to get me through some doldrums. I intro'd this year's competition with some footage of MC Battles from the 80s, the kids watching without the context I didn't provide, and after a few minutes, I cut it off, saying: "You're gonna do this today."

THEM: We're gonna flow?
ME: No. You don't have any skills. You're gonna battle with past tense irregular verbs.

The High Point B battles play out according to CELDT. The Final Four go R-FEP, 5, 5, 4. The winner is my back-up dyslexic center, D., who just steamrolls everyone in class exactly the way he doesn't steamroll anyone on the court. High Point A goes according to CELDT, but in reverse order. The two champions both come out of the Newcomer Center: C. has lived here about a year, while F. is Jorge epitomized. The two of them facing off makes my eff-ing month, and I wanna call their teacher from last year, tell her to drop her kids at the library or leave em in the quad, or something, anything -- just get on over here, because this is awesome. C. wins, and it's a victory for Newcomer Centers and targeted student grouping everywhere.

Today I pull the Final Four from HP B into my HP A class for the ultimate showdown. I've seeded these kids, and my skills as bracketologist inspire awe. The highest seed wins every battle, and the ultimate final feature each class's respective winner. I pump Eye of the Tiger when D. walks up to the battle circle, the Star Wars Imperial March while C. enters. Niether has lost. They face each other. C.'s style is reserved: a quiet, firm voice delivered toward her opponent's ankles. D. squares-up before delivering each verb pair, (the way I wish he'd square-up to the basket), then immediately turns half away, dismissive, done.

I have to quell a rash of betting that emerges with the school's token economy money.

This is the longest battle. They blast through being verbs and the oughts. C. is a big fan of the little utilized consonant changers, while D. has a secret weapon he's been working on this whole time. Even as C. moves through her d-to-t and her no-changers, D. has been applying prefixes to his verbs and the effect is devasting.


He stresses the prefix, and a gasp arises when they see what he has done.


C. knows she's in trouble.


D. wins, and they applaud as I raise his left arm above his head. I present C. with her certificate, D. with his trophy. Then we battle and I destroy him at his own game. It ends like this:

HIM: make-made
ME: unmake-unmade
HIM: go-went
ME: undergo-underwent
HIM: (after the ten seconds of disqualifying silence) That's just cold.


Blogger James and Tom said...


You've just made me so happy.

7:43 PM  
Anonymous pseudostoops said...

so great. made my day.

9:55 AM  
Blogger TMAO said...

Yar. Thanks.

8:23 PM  
Anonymous Benjamin Baxter said...

Heh. I approve.

10:43 PM  
Blogger Jackie said...

How very, very cool. You've got me wondering... unit circle trig value showdowns? Hmm....

7:49 AM  
Blogger ms. v. said...

that sounds really fun... can I ask something, though? do they use the verbs correctly in their writing and speech?

1:19 PM  
Blogger TMAO said...


The thing is, now there's a context for correction. "Is that the past tense of drink?" "Remember that fight is an -ought."

The big thing is learning which verb to conjugate: "When did they went there?"

1:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

can you tell me more about what you do with this battling? I also teach High Point and I would LOVE an idea like this to spice it up!! Years ago I used to host a battling club but it was a physical contest. Great idea!

9:17 PM  

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