"I don't know, Mr. Educator. I didn't see her today."
"Well I saw her today. I said hello to her and now she's not here. Please begin writing your introduction while I call her house."
I called Alice's house, and got her 17-year-old brother on the line. The students dutifully listened in, and not one began the work I'd requested. How can you write when real drama is unfolding before your very eyes? Alice's brother said his parents were working. I read him Alice's list of absences, and he said he'd share them with his parents.
"How do you know he'll tell his parents, Mr. Educator?"
"Well, I don't. But he'll tell Alice, and she'll know to expect a call the next time she's absent."
"Well, he won't tell the parents," said a girl in the corner who seemed to have experience in these matters.
"How do you know?" I asked.
"Because if he tells on her, then the parents will know that he was home instead of in school."
"Good point, Francesca. Now please get started on the intro. Try to steal some stuff from the situation box, you know. My teacher asked me to write about blah blah blah. I listened to a speech by blah blah blah about blah blah blah."
"How to spell blah blah blah?"
"No Heidi. How do you spell blah blah blah?"
"I don't know. That's why I asked you."
I wrote it on the board for her. I'll have to try to make my suggestions more precise in the future.
Stories herein containing unnamed or invented characters are works of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.