That’s My Pen! A play in three acts


Setting: Classroom, late October.  A student’s hand is waving in the air.  Her other hand is covered in blue ink.  The table in front of her is smudged blue.

Student: Can I go to the bathroom???!!!  My pen exploded!!!

Ms. Frizzle: Listen, I’ve been alive for 29 years, which is a lot longer than any of you, and never once in 29 years has a pen exploded all over my hand.

Student: It was an accident!

Ms. Frizzle: Okay, go clean up your hands but be quick.

Student leaves.

Ms. Frizzle (to other students): I just have to wonder, when at least one pen explodes every week in here, whether you’re honestly treating your pens the way they are meant to be treated.


Setting: Classroom, mid-January.  Ms. Frizzle is giving instructions, when she notices two students in front of her engrossed in dismantling their pens.

Ms. Frizzle (interrupting her instructions for analyzing weather data): Please leave your pens alone.  You know, I don’t think I’ve needed or wanted to take a pen apart for at least 10 years.  So I’m surprised to find two students in a room of twenty-something both need to take apart their pens at this exact moment, when they should be listening to instructions.  You all need to focus, we have important things to do and I’m giving the instructions.


Setting: Same classroom, a few minutes later.  Two boys are having a spat, shoving and saying things about each other.

Roberto: Ricardo hit me!

Ms. Frizzle: Ricardo, keep your hands to yourself and focus!

Roberto: He’s chewing on my pen!  That’s my pen and he’s chewing…

Ricardo: That’s not your pen, it’s my pen!!!

Ms. Frizzle: I think you both know who the pen belongs to, and you should give it back to that person or let that person keep it, and chewing on pens is kind of gross no matter what.  Now both of you please focus!

Roberto: That’s my pen!  He’s still chewing on it!

Ricardo (licking pen dramatically): It’s my pen, I can prove it!

Ms. Frizzle: I can’t believe how much time you’re wasting from class over a pen.  You know whether that’s your pen or not.  Please figure this out or step outside the door and wait for me to come talk to you after I give the directions.

Ms. F. naively believes one child will concede at this point rather than taking it to the hallway.  Ha ha.

Later, in the hallway…

Ms. Frizzle: Okay, Ricardo first, then Roberto.  Don’t interrupt, you’ll both get to talk.

Ricardo: I had that pen until advisory yesterday.  It’s my pen.  I think Jackson stole it  and gave it to Roberto.

Ms. Frizzle: Jackson is in your advisory?

Ricardo: No, I think he stole it out of my bag when I wasn’t in the room.

Roberto: Jackson gave it to me but I didn’t steal it, it’s my pen now.

Ms. Frizzle: So, Roberto, do you know where Jackson got it?

Roberto: No.

Ms. Frizzle: So, it’s possible he did take it and it IS Ricardo’s pen?

Roberto: Yeah but that’s not about me.

Ms. Frizzle: If you were the one who saw someone else using a pen you lost, and they said, it’s not my problem, is that how you would want to be treated?

Roberto (tries to muster up a convincing “sure” but fails): No.

Ms. Frizzle: So, I’m leaving it up to you two boys to figure out what to do.  We don’t know for sure whose pen it is, but you can figure out how to resolve this.  Come back in the room when you’ve decided.

Several minutes later, the boys enter, Ricardo holding the pen.  Peace.  Curtain.



Filed under teaching

8 responses to “That’s My Pen! A play in three acts

  1. X

    “Licking pen dramatically” is a great phrase.

    When I see a kid taking apart a pen, I like to take away most but not all of its components, so that s/he is left with, say, just the cap.

  2. So, I teach K-2…and I have to say, I don’t know if I’m relieved or frightened to know that all the pen/pencil sturm und drang doesn’t subside by middle school.

  3. W

    Bravo! Bravo! The story of my life…

  4. llm8167

    And I thought pencils were problematic.

  5. Leigh

    Just checking in and updating my RSS for your blog. I trust all is well in NY. I confess I haven’t been in contact much with Koc people. Ann Marie and I ahve exchanged a few letters however.

    Over here they don’t know about rock salt on sidewalks when it’s snowed, so the ice is around 2″ thick and I’ve just broken my shoulder – or at least it feels that way – or at least I could have broken my shoulder as my elbow took the weight of my body and transferred it beautifully to my shoulder. This cold spell is unusual for Baku and the classroom cleaner it was last this bad around 20 years back.

    The school here is great, but the city has nothing on Istanbul. The weeks fly and the admin and staff are all that one could hope for. I have a dream class of Grade 5 children from Scotland, England, Indonesia France, China, Italy, Azerbaijan. We have 48 nationalities in the school, although you probably have more being where you are.

    I’m waiting for the knock on the door, as I’ve decided to blog on freedom of the press issues when I see them coming up on the net.

    Say hello to my friend Leslie who is a language consultant in NY. 🙂

  6. I say “pe-ehns?” and look like I’m going to cry. “Pencils kids, this is math…Please?”

  7. Marnie

    In my classroom last year (7th grade English) kids used to intentionally run down the tips of the pen until the pen was no longer usable.(They would rub the pen point against a surface until it got hot..)I really don’t understand why anyone would desire to do as such. I love your constant refrain of “I am 29 years old and I never felt the need…” That’s often how I felt.

    I think I went through at least 1200 extra pens last year since that was my solution to kids not having them. I tried various sign out systems and saying I wasn’t going to give out any pens, but in the end kids never had any and it drove me crazy that it could slow us down so much.

    Oy pens + middle schoolers = drama

    Love your play!

  8. Sometimes I wish we could just employ the wisdom of King Solomon and threaten to break the object being fought over to identify the correct owner, but I guess the way you handled the situation is much more professional. 🙂

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