The 7th graders and I are studying bacteria. My theme during this unit is the fact that most bacteria are beneficial and even vital to life on earth, but some are very, very bad. The black death is always popular with them because:
a) it's scary
b) it's icky
c) there's garbage,poop, rats, and mass destruction
Last Friday, as they pulled out their pencils and got ready for Mr. FC to tell them about the Plague, I acted like I needed something from the big walk in closet in the back of the room.
"Just a second, I'll be right back"
As soon as the door to the closet closed, I slipped on a monks robe (okay, really Jr.'s Jedi robe, but it looks monky). Then I banged around a bit, flashed the lights, and emerged from the closet as SALVATORE DOMENICI, ITALIAN MONK FROM 1347.
I came into the classroom, head down, cowl hiding my face, arms crossed. The happy chatter in the class began to change as I walked slowly between the desks with out uttering a word.
Eventually, I made it to the front of the room and in my best overdone, stern Italian accent, I raised my head and said,
"My name is Salvatore Domenici."
(a giggle from the audience)
I pointed at the giggler, grim reaper style,
"What I have to tell you is not funny"
"My name is Salvatore, I survived the black death and I have come through time to tell you of it's horrors"
For the next 30 minutes, I had them in the palm of my hands as we covered the social, cultural, and biological reasons for the plague devastation. They'll never sing Ring Around The Rosie again and not think of the plague.
Later in the period, Salvatore went back into the closet time machine and a shaken, bedazzled Mr. FC stumbled back into the classroom.
He had been sent to fourteenth century Italy during Salvatore's visit.
It wasn't pretty.
The kids thanked me for the lesson as they dashed off to lunch.