Hats On To You

My head is swimming in a storm of figurative language, ideas, memories, and desires to share stories right now. Room 207 is a buzz with homonyms. Twitter is popping with robust vocabulary that is inspiring existential, pedagogical philosophies. I have stumbled across a heretofore unknown superpower, asking “Why?” –Soon to be blogged.

And finally, have you ever had the experience of someone seemingly reading your mind? There are those friends who know you so well, or the two of you have shared so many of the same experiences that he/she can tell what you are thinking throughout a conversation. The idea of completing one another’s sentences is the costume for this super power. But, have you ever met someone who simply shares many of the same interests, experiences, life values, and goals; so many in fact that you seem to have known each other far longer than you actually have?

I only just met Kate Lindquist, and that only virtually on Twitter, a few weeks ago. But, the way she is tweeting things that are right up my alley reminds me of the relationship between Rodion Raskolnikov and Porfiry Petrovich from the godfather of dual personality psychology thrillers, “Crime and Punishment” (Dostoevsky, 1927). Petrovich, the local detective, has no idea Raskolnikov committed murder, but the latter feels like Petrovich is on to him through the entire novel. The recent tweet is a perfect example.

better qualityThe picture at the top of this blog is from my very first year teaching. Those kids are in high school, now. I was doing all kinds of culture-building activities, mixing in art, philosophy, and story-telling. This was the year that I dreamed up “The Polite Pirates”. One of the special days throughout the year was “hat day”. This theme spurred all kinds of ideas, one of which, as you can see by the picture, was making pirate hats that did the opposite of filling strangers with fear and dread; They were to spread cheer and peace. We also came up with new classroom roles: The Peace Pirates.

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The first ever Peace Pirates

One boy and one girl would be chosen each week to be incharge of making sure that the classroom was manageably quiet. They were given a “Peace Tool”, which is a little plastic drum with beads in it. When tilted slightly, the beads spill, simulating a beach-like sound. The class whispers “So peaceful” in chorus. They love it. And, it works.

The next year I added to the theme by making two “Peace Hats” that the Peace Pirates may wear. These were made of gigantic cardstock fronts that every student added some peaceful idea to, decorating the front with color and peaceful symbolism. There were words, pictures, cartoons, etc. I had to readjust the band that held it onto the students’ heads each week, but that was part of the formality of picking new Peace Pirates.

It was the following year, year three of Peace Pirates, that I finally wrote a story for the Peace Hat policy. [This is wear (get it;) Kate’s tweet comes in.] The story is about the power of the hat. I wrote it to bring power to the Peace Hat, but it is about hats having meanings or messages.

While the story was only okay, it took on new life when it was changed into a play to be read during a readers theater for parents. I love engaging top notch students’ help with projects as a way to differentiate through enrichment. The year that I made “The Peaceful Hat Story” into a play I had a student named Brandon help a little. We were learning Google Docs that year, and I had Brandon reformat some of the text, separating paragraphs into speaking parts. Honestly, I did most of the work, and had to fix some of

Brandon’s help, but he felt like a million bucks, having participated in the project. As a reward and payment for his participation in the project, I put his name on the bulletin that I printed out for parents. Of course Brandon was in this play during the readers theaters performance! Some of his crew congratulated him with comments in the shared Google Doc. My favorite thing about this experience, though, was the ending that Brandon gave the play. I have left it just as he typed it all of these years, explaining to future classes that a student wrote that. It cracks me up, and I can’t think of a better way to end the thing!

The Peace Hats are not worn as much anymore. This year’s haven’t even graduated from artwork to hat! But, the Peace Pirates get to sit at our classroom island. Looking out over our classroom from their peaceful perch, they still use the Peace Tool to encourage a quiet environment. In this way, none of my Polite Pirates will need to dawn the invention explained at the end of the Peaceful Hat story.

And, here it is in play form.

 

A Peaceful Hat Story Readers’ Theater

by Mr. Weimann

CAST:

  • Narrator 1
  • Narrator 2
  • Onomatopoeia
  • Captain Iron Knee
  • Zeus
  • Swashbuckler
  • Sailor

Narrator 1:  (in a gruff old piraty tone)  Behold, ye landlubbers be sittin’ in on the finest collection of courteous kids these here parts have ever known.  We have a tale to share saving shenanigans for silly sailors and piraty persons performing peaceful feats!

Narrator 2:  (in a normal voice.)  Oh, good grief that pirate talk is hard.  And, I’m pretty sure it didn’t make much sense, either.  What my friend meant to say was that this class of students has a story to convey through one last readers’ theater.  And, guess what! It is a polite pirate tale.

Narrator 1:  Yeh, there be some strange personages patroling these planks.  Watch out for the disease. It be catchin’ ye off guard, and shir ta frighten ya.

Narrator 2:  My friend is referring to Onomatopoeia, which is no disease, but rather the literary term defining words that represent sounds.

Onomatopoeia:  Grrrrrr.  Argh!

Narrator 1:  There she is!  That was thee disease.  She roams these waters. Be plenty oh pirates ‘fraid of her.

Narrator 2:  Sure.  If you are unaware of Onomatopoeia, you may be frightened by…

Onomatopoeia:  Wham!!!  Slam!!! Bam!!!

Narrator 2:  But I just told everyone who Onomatopoeia is, so we’re good here.  Let’s get on with our talel.

Narrator 1:  If you insisteds.  You be the boss, with yer fancy talkin’ and profesionalies explainin’.

Onomatopoeia:  Stomp, stomp, stomp, SLAM!  (Door slamming shut)

Iron Knee:  (bursts in on Zeus stirring a pot)  What’s for dinner!? I’m starving!!

Onomatopoeia:  CRASH! (pot falls to the floor) SPLAT! (Sauce lands on Zeus’ hat.)

Zeus:  Oh, no.  Look at my hat.  What a mess. I cannot cook with such a messy hat.

Iron Knee:  I’m so sorry, Zeus.  I did not mean to be such a distraction.  I should have walked quieter and closed the door gentler.

Onomatopoeia:  Sob, sob

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Preparing for performance

Zeus:  I forgive you, captain.  I just don’t know what to do.

Iron Knee:  Well, you could wear my hat, if you must have one.  I’ll have one of the swashbucklers clean up yours.

Onomatopoeia:  Gasp!

Zeus:  I couldn’t possibly!  Your captain’s hat doesn’t belong  in the kitchen.

Iron Knee:  Nonsense.  What does it matter where it is worn?  It will cover yer head. That is all.

Narrator 2:  It did not require much persuasion for Zeus to dawn the captain’s illustrious hat.

Narrator 1:  There was much need, those, for the young piraty cook to be wearin’ many dishtowels on his little roundish head.  For the captain, he be havin’ a rather largish head, so his hat be hugish on top oh the cook’s.

Zeus:  This feels better… pretty good… almost too good… powerful…  Back to that sauce.

Onomatopoeia:  Swish, slosh, splirt… (Zeus stirs the sauce.)

Narrator 1:  Every stir that cook took made the hat-wearin’ rook look…  power caused him to shook…

Narrator 2:  Are you a poet now?  I don’t think shook is even a word.

Narrator 1:  It most certainly is!  The cook shook with might.  And, maybe. Maybe I will be the Poetic Pirate!

Narrator 2:  You might shook with…

Onomatopoeia:  Clank!  (Zeus drops the stirring spoon.)

Zeus:  Sauce, I am tired of stirring you round and round, round and round.  I want you to thicken, and I don’t think that I should have to slave over you to make that happen.

Narrator 2:  As if in answer to the person wearing the captain’s hat, a humungous bubble rose up from the surface of the brown goo.

Narrator 1:  (with gusto, like a professional actor)  Zeus grabbed a knife from the counter, and held it like a cutlass high above his head.

Narrator 2:  Don’t steal the show.  You’re only a narrator.

Zeus:  Insubordinate gelatinous mutineer!  You shall pay dearly for your rebellion.  I will have no rivalries on my ship!

Onomatopoeia:  POP! Splat.

Narrator 1:  (with a flat boring voice)  Zeus removed the captain’s hat.

Onomatopoeia:  Utter silence.

Zeus:  Oh no, what have I done?  Captain’s hat is covered in mutinous muck.

Onomatopoeia:  Creek, click.  (the door opens)

Swashbuckler:  Hey, what are you doing with the captain’s hat?  I have yours right here, all cleaned up and ready to go for you.

Zeus:  What?!  The captain gave this to me!  I did not steal it. You can go stick your nose in someone else’s business!

Narrator 2:  Now, the swashbuckler, who had returned with the chef hat that he just washed as a favor to both the captain who had asked him to, but also as a courtesy for his good friend the chef, could not help but laugh out loud.  Little did the chef realize, but he looked ridiculous with a pile of dishtowels still atop his head. As he yelled, the pile swayed to and fro like something out of a Dr. Seuss book.

Onomatopoeia:  Ha, ha, ha, chuckle, chuckle, chuckle

Narrator 1:  (incredulous)  A Dr. Seuss book?  Really? This story is so far removed from Dr. Seuss, that…

Narrator 2 :  (cutting off the other narrator)  Rather than experience the wrath of his friend, who was turning as red as a beet at this point, the swashbuckler backed out of the kitchen still clutching the chef hat.

Onomatopoeia:  Step, step, step

Swashbuckler:  I wonder what got into him.  Where should I leave Zeus’ hat?  I’ll just wear it until I find a place.

Narrator 1:  (back to a piraty voice)  Well, my mateys, this fine friend of a fellow forgot all about the look shook cook’s hat he took.

Narrator 2:  (to himself)  Oh brother. (to the audience)  Even when another sailor asked him…

Sailor:  What’s cookin’?

Narrator 1:  (piraty)  He be still forgetin’ he be dawning that puffy white hat!

Swashbuckler:  Nuttin’ much.

Sailor:  Tis that a new dish?

Swashbuckler:  Dish?

Sailor:  What we be havin’ for mess mate?

Swashbuckler:  What mess?  I cleaned this deck this morning!  It’s as shiny as your bald head!

Sailor:  (a little hurt)  Hey. I just be wonderin’ what’s the eats we be slavin’ aways fur.

Narrator 1:  (still piraty)  Look here. This sailor fella be thinkin’ that a regular old swashbuckler be the chef o’ the ship.  He be thinkin’ this ‘cause the swashbuckler be keepin’ that chef hat on top of his dare head.

Narrator 2:  Are you going to keep talking that way throughout the entire play?

Narrator 1:  (piraty)  It be startin’ to grow on me.  That there be an idiom, if ye not fir-mill-yaaarrrrrrJ

Swashbuckler:  I can’t take this anymore!  I’m outta here. (throws chef hat on the ground)

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Performed on “International Talk Like a Pirate Day”, September 19th

Onomatopoeia:  Kirr whop!

Sailor:  I wonder if he realized he was wearing the chef’s hat.  I think…

Onomatopoeia:  Churn churn churn

Sailor:  I think I might be able to have a little fun with this.

Onomatopoeia:  Slosh, swish, swoosh,  ring, slosh, swish, swoosh, ring

Swashbuckler:  Hey chef, I’m starved.  What grub we got for supper?

Narrator 1:  (no longer piraty, but kind of confused)  Wait a minute. Is that the same swashbuckler from before…  like two minutes ago?

Narrator 2:  Yeah, that’s right.  We should probably infer that some time has lapsed.  You’re a narrator; why don’t you tell everyone?

Narrator 1:  (still regular voiced)  Could it be that the chef hat has some kind of magical power, so that it transforms the appearance of anyone wearing it?

Narrator 2:  I think you are over-thinking it.  These are pirates. They probably just see a chef hat and assume a chef is wearing it.

Narrator 1:  (a little hurt)  Oh, so pirates are less intelligent than other people, huh.

Narrator 2:  Not this again…  Look, this whole tale is about hats.  I think it is safe to say that there is something going on with the whole who wears a hat, and what hat it is matters business.  Let’s find out how the tale ends.

Narrator 1:  (piraty again)  I be hearin’ correctly?  Somebody mention themselves some grub?

Narrator 2:  Here we go…

Onomatopoeia:  Mmmmmmm

Sailor:  Grub.

Swashbuckler:  You ignorin’ me man?!  What grub we be eatin’?

Onomatopoeia:  Mmmmmmm

Sailor:  Grubs, man.

Swashbuckler:  I asked you what grub.  Why you be askin’ me what grub?  You is bein’ the cook ain’t ya? What you doin’ foolin’ me dis way?

Sailor:  We be eatin’ grub my matey!

Narrator 1:  (normal, and out of piraty character)  Is he saying “grub” like the animal, or grub, as in the slang term for food?

Narrator 2:  Narrators are supposed to supply information, not ask questions.  The sailor is playing a joke on the swashbuckler. The word grub can be used both ways, and he is implying that the swashbuckler will be eating actual insect larvae for lunch.

Onomatopoeia:  Splash!

Narrator 1:  Wow!  The swashbuckler did not seem to appreciate the joke.  He just dumped his whole bucket of dirty water on to the trickster sailor’s head.

Onomatopoeia:  Wham!!!   Bam!!! Slam!!!

Screen Shot 2019-04-07 at 7.06.13 AM
This was the crew that turned the story into a play. 2013

(conversation off stage)

Captain Iron Knee: All hands below deck!  Batten down the hatches.

Zeus: Where did this hale storm come from?

Swashbuckler:  Where is sailor?

Captain Iron Knee:  The sails will be ruined.

Swashbuckler:  No, I mean where is the sailor who I threw a dirty bucket of water on?

Onomatopoeia:  Thwack, thawack, thwack

Sailor:  Attack!  Attack! Someone is attacking the ship!  Man the nine-irons! Jib the sails, or whatever you do with sails.

Narrator 2:  As you may have guessed, the sailor was blind with the bucket on his head.  The dark, combined with the sound of huge hale hitting his bucket head, disconcerted him to the point that he began running around raising sail and preparing for battle.

Narrator 1:  Sailor unknowingly saved the entire ship!

Swashbuckler:  You raised the sails yourself?

Sailor:  I am a sailor.

Zeus:  You had the foresight and extreme intelligence to place a bucket on your head?

Sailor:  Well…

Captain Iron Knee:  You are the hero of the whole ship!  What a brilliant idea! How did you ever think of it?!

Zeus: Yeah how did you come up with that?

Sailor: Well you didn’t let me finish before.

Zeus: Well, then who did it.

Sailor: The Swashbuckler did.

Captain Iron Knee: What?

Zeus: Well then I guess we can congratulate both of them.

Captain Iron Knee: Yeah.

Narrator 1/Narrator 2: And, that’s exactly what happened.

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Piraty Personages;)

Published by

Matt Weimann

Classy to the core, I teach the whole #3rdGrade child @EPSDWillowLane. I have eclectic tastes with interests in chess, cuisine, art, good literature, strong coffee and other drinks, jazz, and fashion... Mostly bowties;)

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