Sanjay needed an assistant to help measure his work.
I glanced at Mrs. Nix patrolling the class as I awaited Sanjay’s decision on his assistant.
We were in what I’ve called ‘the dead zone’ where 90 percent of the class is sitting and waiting.
Not good when an administrator is in the crowd. So I asked the class to partner up and first estimate the radius of their paper plates, then measure the diameter, and then figure out how accurate their estimation was.
This ‘ad libbing’ thing is getting exhausting. But I wasn’t done.
I asked Mrs. Nix if she could give me Sanjay any hints on his challenge. My thinking: the busier [i.e. more distracted] the visiting administrator, the better.
And I liked the idea of cold-calling her.
She suggested that because batter spreads he needed to do some pre-testing with a little glop in a corner of the griddle.
And then, inspiration hit.
I pulled Beth aside and asked her to move the laptop next to the griddle and set up the document camera.
“You’ve never even used it before,” she said to me. As usual, she lets me get away with nothing.
I told her now was as good a time as any and that she’d get a second round at the griddle.
Five minutes later, in a sea of cables and plugs and elbows and mouse-clicks and laptop and camera repositioning, we had a pancake on the big screen!
Sanjay’s pancake didn’t quite make the four-inch mark.
Out of the blue, Mrs. Nix stepped forward. She poured some batter, waited about five seconds, and asked for a measurement.
Three inches. The kids were glued to the big screen.,
Mrs. Nix lifted one handle of the griddle and said, “How about if we play with gravity a little bit?” The batter spread and then she lowered the handle again and asked for another measurement. Four inches.
Our guest took a ladleful of batter and scribbled out a big number four on the griddle. The kids cheered and I couldn’t help but smile.
Mrs. Nix…spontaneous. Who’d have dreamed?