Hyperbole is the Best Thing Ever – But Perhaps Not Suited for Questioning Sophomores

October 4, 2010 at 2:51 pm 1 comment

While modeling poetry analysis using John Updike’s “Ex-Basketball Player”:

Mrs. Bees: Okay, so we’ve established that almost every line has ten syllables. Now listen to me read a few of these lines out loud: “Bends with the trolley tracks, and stops, cut off. Their rubber elbows hanging loose and low. Beyond her face toward bright applauding tiers.” What do you hear?

Student 1: duh-DUH, duh-DUH.

Mrs. Bees: Good! And what does that sound like to us?

Student 1: A basketball dribbling?

Mrs. Bees: Perhaps… what else?

Student 2: A heartbeat!

Mrs. Bees: Excellent! And what do we call it when we have a ten-syllable line that goes duh-DUH, duh-DUH, like a heartbeat?

Student 3: Something pentagon or something?

Student 4: Pentameter…

Mrs. Bees: Starts with an I.

Student 4: Iambic pentameter.

Mrs. Bees: Exactly. And who loved iambic pentameter so much that he got the words “iambic pentameter” tattooed across his chest?

Students: Uhm….

One Student: Your husband?

Mrs. Bees: No… I mean, which famous author used iambic pentameter in everything he wrote?

Student 1: Shakespeare.

Mrs. Bees: That’s the guy!

Student 4: Wait… Shakespeare had tattoos?

Fearing that my next class’s grasp of the preposterous might be even weaker than the first, I changed my Shakespeare question to, “Which famous author loved iambic pentameter so much that he wrote the words ‘iambic pentameter’ on his babies’ foreheads in permanent marker?” Shouldn’t have bothered; they were so hung up on whether or not Sharpies had been invented in the sixteenth century that I almost couldn’t get them beyond it. Needless to say, fourth period just got a plain old “Which author used a lot of iambic pentameter?”


Entry filed under: TALES FROM SCHOOL.

Devour Any Good Books Lately? Transitions

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Mrs. Chili  |  October 4, 2010 at 3:53 pm


    Doesn’t stuff like this just KILL you?! “Come ON, Babies! WORK with me, here!! You complain that this stuff is boring; I’m standin’ on my head up here, trying to make it fun, and you’re just not keeping UP!”


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The Bee’s Knees

This is the teaching journal of a student first-year second-year THIRD-YEAR (!!!) English teacher. I am writing this blog as a reflection for myself, a way to keep friends and family updated, and a sharing-ground between other educators online. I love comments!

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