For “Journal Writing” class yesterday, I gave my little guys an assignment to reinforce making the “Writing Hamburger” (main idea as the “bun” and the details as the “toppings”) as well as starting to create metaphors and analogies in their writing… without going into details quite yet about metaphor and analogy. They are seven.
The topic was “My Favorite Colour”. These three little weirdos all picked black. They were given the opening sentence (“My favourite colour is…”) and closing sentence (“I love the colour…”) to help them with the hamburger. Then they had to answer the following questions about their colour:
How does it look?
How does it taste?
How does it smell?
How does it feel?
How does it sound?
Haha. You should have seen the looks on their faces when they realised they were going to have to tell me how the colour black smells. But I gave them a load of example using my favourite colour (red, if you’d like to know) and they were off.
Lilly proofreading her work like a boss.
They did a great job! Some of the ideas were pretty basic (and they all seemed to think that black smelled and tasted like chocolate), but there were some real gems in their paragraphs that I would like to share with you. These are taken from all three children. Jessica, Lilly and Albert, 7 years old.
Black is scary, dark, and looks like a thief. It sounds like a ghost’s howls. Black is like a cat that rests in the library. It is the sound of lightning in the night. It feels like a ghost is holding my arm beside me.
I freaking love these children!
William is Korean aged 10. He is a very smart and sensitive third grader with the cutest dimples when he smiles… so I’m always trying to make him smile. He’s almost always got food on his shirt and he’s a funny kid although his sense of humour is sometimes strange. He is full of saliva and always smacks his lips when he reads. And he reads like a mini Korean Shatner.
So the other day in class there was some weird sort of brown spooge in his workbook. He had been eating chocolate when I came in the classroom so I said, “Ew. Is that chocolate?”
Without batting an eye, William scratches off the brown smear and sniffs at it. For a moment, I seriously thought he was going to eat. I would have let him. I’m a bad teacher sometimes.
Today in my Tuesday/Thursday TOEFL class, they were asked to write an essay answer to the question “What would it be like to lose a friend, even for a good reason?”
These girls are 10 and in fourth grade. It’s a pretty heavy topic. And a page long essay? In their second language? These kiddos usually write 5-7 sentences. Not a pageful. And certainly not in the 25 minutes I have them.
For the first bit of class, we discussed the question. First and foremost: How could you ‘lose’ a friend? We first talked about how they could move away or change class so you don’t see them any more. We talked about how they could die and you would lose them forever (the Korean ferry incident was fresh in their minds, so they could actually really relate to that, even at 10 years old). Finally, we talked about how you could get into a fight so bad with a friend that you stop being friends, and lose them that way.
We always have these discussions before we start writing. It ensures the kids understand the question and how to answer it fully. Well, after discussing how one could ‘lose’ a friend, we moved on to how they would feel if the lost a friend. Their collective verbal answer? “Sad”.
Even if I got them to say that in a full sentence, they’d still only have one sentence and a page full of empty lines.
So I suggested to them that instead of directly answering the question, that they try writing a story about losing a friend. We talked about how the beginning could be about how good the friendship was; the middle about how the friend was lost; and the end about how bad it felt after they were gone.
I told them that the story didn’t have to be true for a test like the TOEFL, it just had to be well written and interesting. And that a story is sometimes easier to write instead of a direct answer. Especially if you needed to fill a page full of lines.
The good news is that Cindy followed my advice and her story turned out really good. I just hope that she remembers what I told them for future classes and future questions. I think that if she does, she’ll do well.
Although I do have complaints about my school, I have absolutely nothing but love for the kids I teach. They. are. amazing. They make me laugh almost every single day and all the hugs and smiles are great. Here are a few recent bits that happened that made me laugh.
Albert Speaks 1
This kid. Seriously. THIS KID.
Me: What is the opposite of “female”?
Me: WHAT?! “JEW”??
Albert: No! Jew. JEW. (makes a ‘z’ gesture)
Me: Do you mean “zoo”?
Albert: Yah. Zoo.
I don’t have any idea what he was thinking. Neither did he, he wouldn’t even try to explain once Jessica said the right answer.
Albert Speaks 2
The workbook had the word “near-sighted” in it, and the kids didn’t know that particular word. I broke it down into the two parts, and was trying to get them to give me another word for “sight”. They had no clue. Thanks, level-appropriate book.
So I pointed to my eyes, trying to get them to say “look” or “see”. What does Albert come up with when I pointed at my eyes?
Excitedly he exclaimed, “Dark circles!”
Clearly I need more sleep.
Nice Try, Robinsaurus
Me: (teaching analogies) What is to “hand” as “ankle” is to “foot”?
Lots of funny kids today. Started with John’s views on strength, and then Evan pulls this on me.
Evan really is a super funny kid. Today we were reading a passage in our TOEFL book about this 18 year old girl named Sue who protected her brothers during a class 4 tornado and what a hero she was… blah blah blah. One of the questions about the story was “According to the passage, which is true of Sue?”
The possible answers were:
A. She was not injured.
B. She was brave.
C. She was a volunteer.
D. She was a high school graduate.
Evan’s answer? “C, teacher. She was a volunteer. SHE VOLUNTEERED…. TO DIE.”
Something wrong with that kid. I love him.
Thankfully, less fartastically this time. But still, nearly popped a blood vessel in my eye trying to keep from laughing.
So for whatever reason, Albert (he of the “I’d ask a jaguar why he’s black” fame) was flexing his biceps at me. The following conversation then took place:
Albert: Teacher, I am strong.
Me: You sure are! Look at that muscle!
John: Teacher, he is not strong.
Me: John, why would you say that?
John: Because he’s white.
So it turns out that John’s full sentence should have been “He’s not strong because he only has a white belt in Tae Kwon Do”. Which is not quite the same as “because he’s white”.
Perhaps what is even funnier is how indignant Albert became after finding out that he was being athletically maligned instead of racially taunted. Turns out Albert has a black and red belt in Tae Kwon Do… he was proper insulted by being called a white belt. These boys!
In one of my elementary classes today I was trying to flesh out the definition of “secret” by using an example.
So I say to the class, “Perhaps I know a secret about John….” and I pause and turn to said child for effect. The whole class falls silent and all faces turn towards John as they eagerly await to hear what possible juicy secret I may tell.
In the brief silence before I can make up an innocent secret about John to tell the class, the little turdburgler looks me right in the eye and, without altering his expression an iota, lifts a cheek and audibly lets rip a fart.
Teaching is so rewarding.
Daily journal topic: “What would it be like if animals could talk?”
Albert wrote that he would like to talk with a jaguar. Why? So he could ask it, “Why are you black?”
For teacher’s comments I was tempted to write “Oh my God, Albert. You can’t just ask jaguars why they’re black”, but I figured the Mean Girls reference would be lost on him so I didn’t bother.
Everyone wants to be their own critic.