May Your Cranium Learn All Swiftly Soon

MY CLASS

For many, today's a return to reading, writing, arithmetic - and remembering yada, yada, yada with little word games

August 27, 2007|By Rob Hiaasen | Rob Hiaasen,Sun reporter

Welcome back, students.

We're sure you had a wonderful summer, but it's important to remember that, as of this moment, your summer is extremely over. It's a new school year, so we're going to jump right in. Please pay attention. Eyes up here.

Time to wake up your beach-addled brains with a memory game. Elementary school teachers often use mnemonics, which is just a strange-looking word for a system or method designed to aid the memory. So, which mnemonic device will we be creating today?

Not the acronym but its clever sister - the acrostic. An acrostic (not agnostic - that's something else entirely) is a puzzle, poem or any other piece of writing that uses the first letter or word of each line to spell out another word. There are acrostic psalms in the Hebrew Bible. Lewis Carroll used acrostics in his Alice in Wonderland tales. Edgar Allan Poe wrote an acrostic poem for and in the name of E-L-I-Z-A-B-E-T-H.

Remember memorizing the Great Lakes by using the acrostic H-O-M-E-S - Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior?

In childhood, we learned similar mnemonic devices, such as the one old-schoolers used to learn the planets in order from the sun (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto): My Very Educated Mother Just Showed Us Nine Planets. Beginning piano students learn the lines on the treble clef by memorizing Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge.

Today, we're going to create an acrostic, but first let's warm up by helping you to remember the word "mnemonic." Would anyone like to start? Yes, you in the back row shuffling your iPod ... yes, you ...

My

Needy

Educator

Makes

(Good, good, keep going!)

Outrageous

Needless

Instruction

Constantly.

OK, you've got the hang of it. We're ready.

We're going to challenge ourselves to create an acrostic that embodies as much human experience in a typical 180-day school year. This has never been done before - that we remember. Kids, feel free to throw out any word or idea about school. There are no wrong answers. The only rule is whatever word you use has to start with the following letters: B-A-C-K T-O S-C-H-O-O-L.

Don't worry. There won't be a test at the end.

B-A-C-K

Backpacks ... Backaches ... BFF ... Blogs ... Burn out ... Buses ... Band ... Breakfast ... Bugs on a log (celery filled with cream cheese and topped with raisins) ... Burger King ... Basketball ... Binders ... Break (winter break: Dec. 21) ... Back-to-school night ... Bullies ... Burt's Bees ... Bathrooms (know where they are) ... Bicycle helmets ... Bedtime.

Attendance ... Adolescence ... Alarm clocks ... Activities ... After-school day care ... ACTs ... Assessments ... Acne ... Allergies ... Added (to your Facebook).

Classes ... Curriculum ... Calendars ... Classmates ... Chat rooms ... Coffee ... Chicken Nuggets ... Crushes ... Cell phones ... Codes (dress; honor) ... Crayons ... Calculators ... Computers ... Commencement.

Kids ... Kindergarten ... K-5 ... Kookaburra (sits in the old gum tree) ... Kissing.

T-O

Teachers ... Teacher work days ... Timeouts ... Tardy ... Tetanus ... Trigonometry.

Objectives ... Orthodontics ... Office Depot ... OMG.

S-C-H-O-O-L

Stressed-out ... Superbad ... SATs ... Supplies ... Staples ... Science ... Social networking ... Sports ... Sleep ... Sleep deprived ... Sleepovers ... Seniors.

Cafeteria ... Christmas break ... Catcher in the Rye.

High School ... Homework ... Homecoming ... Haircuts ... Hotties.

Outfits ... Oedipus.

Overworked.

Lacrosse ... Locker ... Lose (combination) ... Late room ... Lunchbox ... Lunchables ... Lost and found ... LOL ... Library ... Lip gloss ... Lyme disease ... Laptops ... Leave no child behind ... Labor Day!

Very good job, class. A little weak on the "K" and "O" entries, but strong "S" and "L" contributions. We're not expecting you to memorize all that, but we do hope your brains are wide awake and ready for another exciting year in education.

Now, who did their summer reading?

rob.hiaasen@baltsun.com

Online

Talk about your most memorable mnemonic devices at baltimoresun.com/acrostics

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