Children's writing

Vocab Fun: Done

It’s a wrap. The Grade 6 Vocab Fun project is complete. I sent the last revisions in this week.

I might feel a twinge of sadness–it is the end of something fun and challenging, after all–except as of today, I’m doing the Grade 5 puzzles along with the Grade 1 puzzles, so there’s more fun to come.

Want to know one of the best parts of the project? The editors. The job’s over, so this isn’t sucking up. It’s true. As you know, this was something new for me: I’ve never worked for the education market, and I don’t have an education background. What do I know from a sixth grader?!

Hmm…let’s see…sixth grade. That would be Mr. Jacobs in the “relocatables”–i.e., permanent temporary buildings. He’d hold misbehaving boys upside down by their ankles. I memorized The Walrus and the Carpenter. Sometimes, on Fridays, he would say, “Take your spelling test,” and we were expected to write our ten or so spelling words from memory, spelled correctly, of course. His reasoning was that if we had studied them, we’d know them. Every Friday, I memorized our spelling words at lunch. We had assigned boy-girl-boy lunch seats and the boys I sat with hated me because I never failed to memorize the words in twenty minutes or less and always aced those tests. That’s what I know from a sixth grader.

It was a huge relief to discover the editors were smart, competent, knowledgeable, and fun. Knowing they were going over everything eliminated all pressure and stress and allowed me to be creative and have fun. When I missed my mark, they returned the arrow and told me to take another shot. It was teamwork at its best.

Of course, this doesn’t take into account the designers who I’m afraid are going to hate me since I really didn’t use the templates they’d prepared, and when I did, I mucked them up pretty good. I think I pushed every margin out to make more room.

Ah, but here they come again: the editors swoop down and head off the designers armed with pitchforks and Wanted posters with my face on them. They smooth it all over, don’t ask me how.

Oh, and the pace of the work was downright leisurely. The whole book was mapped out with ample time to complete each section. Compare that to: “We need these two books in four weeks.”

Vocab Fun is not destined to be a New York Times bestseller–there will be no book tour, no author signings, no glamour–but dang it was fun.

Categories: Children's writing

5 replies »

  1. Sounds like a blast. How great to have editors who want to work with you and seem to have a common vision. Keep it up.
    Sixth grade for me was also a male teacher- Mr. Dunker. I don’t think he ever held anyone upside down, but he was over six feet tall and I do remember him lifting a boy up. His feet must have been a good 18 inches off the ground.
    Sixth grade was also the Kennedy assasination. (Yes, I’m that old.) Those are memories that will never fade.

  2. Is the title to be Grade 6 Vocab Fun? When will it be in print? And will we be able to see it?

    Sixth grade for me was Mr. Smith, who happened to go to high school with my mother. That’s what growing up in a rural county gets you. Either my mother knew everyone there, or else I was related to them. My most vivid memory is of getting into an argument with Mr. Smith over whether 12 midnight is 12 am or 12 pm. He brought our discussion to the attention of the entire class, letting everyone know he thought I was wrong. Then he even brought it to a vote, having kids raise their hands if they thought Mr. Smith was right, or if they thought I was right. It was a lesson in humiliation, of course; everyone voted on the side of Mr. Smith.

    My other memory is of having organized softball games at our second recess of the day (yes, we had 2 recesses a day back then, when the weather was good!). The games were ongoing, competitive, and fun. The entire class played, with Mr. Smith acting as umpire.

  3. Shell, this is a book for teachers, so I kind of doubt it will be available to the general public.

    You’d think I’d know the answer to this question, wouldn’t you?

    What is it with men teaching 6th grade? Mr. Jacobs wasn’t being *mean* when he held kids upside down. It was just a means of getting their attention. I felt he genuinely liked his students.

  4. The same could be said of Mr. Smith–he was a very kind person and a good teacher. Looking back now, I’m guessing he was having an off day and went down the wrong path when he called the whole class into the am/pm thing. He was very gracious when he admitted, to the entire class, that he was wrong. Twelve midnight is 12 am.

  5. Mr Dunker wasn’t mean either. When he lifted the boy up, he was having an eye to eye conversation. Yeah, the kid was in trouble, but he wasn’t hurt. Dr. Dunker was creative and thoughtful, and a very good teacher. Did other people have men for sixth grade teachers?