Thursday, May 17, 2007

finding the key...to the tv

I finally got round to showing a film. I've been a bit deterred from using film by the difficulty I have in keeping track of which room I'll be in and for how long for any given group, let alone the challenge of finding the nearest available tv set. Some of the rooms have sets, small ones...anyway I decided to show my group of premieres renforcé Forrest Gump.
This is my smallest class and it only meets once a week for two hours in the same tiny room. Throughout the year, but on a random basis, I have noticed that when I open this room I sometimes find there a large mobile cabinet with a TV/VCR/DVD unit. Seeing it there reminded me of the possibility of showing a film to my kids. But I had no idea where this tv was normally stored and nor did I know how should I go about securing it's use. These were questions I meant to ask but kept forgetting to until last week the day before I wanted to show Forrest Gump.
I went to the CDI (media center) thinking that Mari, the specialist, might be the one responsible for such things. When I asked her for a zapper (télécommande/remote control) she asked me which machine I wanted to use. I told her about the cabinet on wheels in classroom building B. She shook her head and told me that she had nothing to do with those machines and that the remotes were inside the cabinets.
So the next day, I checked early to discover where exactly "my tv" was. It was in another room. I rolled it into my room (hoping I wasn't stealing it from someone else), plugged it in and then discovered that the cabinet was locked. On the locked door was a little sign that read, "Pour le clé, allez au CDI". So I went back to Marie and explained that I needed the key.
She looked bemused. "I don't have any keys."
I told her about the sign.
"That must be an old sign from before the remodeling of the school." She seemed finished as if that explanation should suffice to clear up her role in the matter.
I remained there in front of her and said, "So...where do I find the key?"
Marie then seemed to kick into another gear as if remembering that I needed help. "Come," she said, "Show me."
We walked back to my room, By this time the bell had rung and my students were waiting in the hallway. They had figured out that a film was in the works and so were abuzz...I began to worry that Murhpy's Law (La principe de la tartine beurrée) was going to sabatoge my ill made plans. Mari took one look at the sign on the locked cabinet door, peeled it off, and crumpled it up. She appeared satisfied once more, as it there was another matter cleared up. Then she looked at me and said, "I'll be right back."
She left me wondering whether I should hope for the best. I decided to choose hope. I let my kids in and began setting up the introductory writing excercise. W e would begin with an expository writing excercise in which they watched the opening feather sequence which lasts about two minutes. Their job was to write a factual description of everything that transpires on the screen during this sequence. They would watch it three times and then have 25 minutes to produce a written a detailed, accurate, and edited description.
As I neared the end of my instructions and presumably the beginning of the video activity, Marie appeared with the key... I thanked her profusely.
"What do I with this?" I said, holding the key aloft.
"Bring it back to me," she said.
The rest of the class went off as planned, the activity went well and then in the second hour we watched the first forty five minutes of the film. The kids, many of them at least, were familiar with it which was good as it allowed them a chance to maybe get the language a little better.
At the end of class I buttoned up the cabinet and wheeled it back to the room where I had found it, no harm no foul, I thought. If I could just repeat the experience next week we'd be able to finish the movie.
On my way to the CDI I was greeted by a colleague, Oliver. He is always ready with a smile and a quip so I took it in stride when he said in his best English, "Ahh...the right man at the right time!"
"Pourquoi?" I said innocently.
"Do you have it?"
I gave him that blank look that is perhaps all too characteristic of me at school.
"Do you have the key?"
I blushed and gave him the key. He thanked me and hurried off. I wondered how he knew I had it. As I walked into the teacher's room, Hamed greeted me and then added urgently, "Oliver is looking for you. He needs the key."
Perhaps I should just hang a sign around my neck next time saying, "I'm showing a film today, be patient with me!"
K

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