Thursday, March 1, 2012

"It's like a loft apartment over a really great party*."

My ninth-grade class will be taking the PSSS test next week. For those unfamiliar, the PSSS is the pre-PSAT. The PSAT is the pre-SAT. Thus the PSSS is the pre-test for the pre-test for the test. Full disclosure: I kind of feel like it's all a big racket for the Collegeboard to make more money. But my girls do need some practice with standardized testing. They've never done a fill-the-bubble test. I had one student who is very stressed about whether or not she will correctly fill in the little bubbles.

To save time and help assuage the anxiety, we took a day this week to fill in the name and address portion of the answer sheet. I had slated for this task to take us roughly 20 minutes, and it ended up taking every bit of the 80 minute class period I had with them that day. They had SOO many questions! While the OCD teacher-who-must-stay-on-task in my was screaming that I should just tell them I'd answer their questions another time, I couldn't help but take this chance to explain things like why you should put two number for your birth date, even if you were born on a single-digit day.

You can't blame them! As I've mentioned before, these girls have never received mail before. They certainly don't know their addresses, and the fact that their P.O. box is their street address really confused them. I had to explain that their second name is considered to be their middle name, even though some of them have 4 and 5 names. I ruffled a few feathers when I explained that they didn't need to put anything in the Social Security number section of the answer sheet, because they didn't have one.

"Are you sure?"

"...yep. Pretty sure."

"What's this number thing on our passport?"

"Don't know about that, but I do know it's not your social security number."

Anyway, when we finally got to the "State" portion of their addresses, it was a no-brainer that they would fill in the "other" bubble. But they were perplexed by the "U.S. terr." bubble.

"That stands for U.S. territory."

"What's that mean?"

"A U.S. territory is kind of like a state, but not really. It is sort of a foreign country, but the US government protects it. Some U.S. territories are...Puerto"

"--like Canada," one of my girls interjected, very confidently and not at all jokingly.

I laughed a little too loudly at that one.

"No, Canada is a country on its own. It's not a U.S. territory at all."

"Y'huh! Canada's a part of America!"

"Well, it's part of NORTH America, but that's a continent, not a country."

"I swear to you Canada is a U.S. territory."

...ok. Sure thing, kiddo.

Vicariously yours,

*The title comes from a Robin Williams HBO special that the Mister and I used to have on DVD.

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