Sunday, November 12, 2006

From the mouths of babes

On Friday I had the opportunity to teach in a Year 5 (we'd call that 4th grade) classroom.

When I got the call that morning I politely explained to the man on the phone that I was GLAD to teach in this classroom, but that I was not equipped with lessons for students of that age. To prepare, I took stock of my books and quickly thought about what lessons could be adapted for older kids. I chucked a few ideas in my giant bag and headed off.

Although I do not keep lessons for students this age, I did have one advantage. The older kiddos get, the more they notice differences in people. This is adventagous to me because once kiddos here reach 8 or so, they can conceptually understand that I am from very far away in the world. They hugely notice my accent and want to know all about me, which makes for a nice, long learning lesson. And it kills lots of time.

For this particular class, I made them wait until the end of the day to ask the questions. What was even better, though, was that in a last minute brain-surge, I realized that instead of just letting them raise their hands and ask, they could write me a short letter. In this letter I asked them to include three things they knew about America plus two questions they had for me. When they finished, I read the letters out loud, dispelled myths, laughed at what they wrote (with them, not at them), and answered the questions.

I thought I would share some of these responses with you for a good laugh. I was a little disappointed at the grammatical and conventional errors of students this age, but I am hoping it was because their teacher wasn't there to ask for the best work. They seemed very bright otherwise...

I assure you these are WORD FOR WORD (with only spelling and grammar having been corrected).

Facts about America:
*There are 80,000 McDonalds.
*They have snow at Christmastime.
*There are lots of people and a lot of famous actors.
*I think that in some parts of American there are a few bombs that have been let off.
*They spell their words different.
*It is full of different countries.
*I know that if you have been to jail you are not allowed in America.
*George Bush lives there.
*They have Waffle Houses.
*It has 52 continents.
*There are heaps of gangs.
*You used to live there.
*Wal Mart is a grocery/shopping center.
*I think that in NY most people go around on roller skates.
*The twin tower was one of the most tragic events in USA.
*America has lots of candy.
*I know that South Park was banned in America because it was too rude.
*There is a huge street called Tornado Alley.
*America owns an island called Hawaii.
*I know that America has one of the best accents.
*George Bush is the Prime Minister.
*There is a natural world wonder called The Grand Canyon.
*My Uncle Tom lives there.
*The flying time to America from Auck[land] is about 12 hours.

Questions about America:
*Have you been to Disneyworld (was on almost everyone's sheet)?
*Aren't you at war with Pakistan?
*Have you been to a gridiron [American football] game?
*Have you met any famous stars?
*Have you ever seen the White House?
*How many suburbs are there?
*Are labradoodles a popular dog?
*Is America noisier than Auckland or is Auckland noisier than America?
*Who do you vote for? George Bush?
*Have you seen a gang?
*How old are you if you are willing to tell me?
(and lastly)
*Where abouts in London do you live?

It was incredibly interesting and semi-insightful.



Anonymous said...

Hi Sweetie!! It is so great to hear about all of your adventures!! It sounds like you had a great day with your "Year 5" group. It's always interesting to find out what others think of America!! We are starting conferences this week and just sent our report cards home on Friday. We finally get to do them on the computer which is really nice, but didn't quite have the bugs worked out, so it took a little longer than it should have. Of course, we also totally changed the math portion due to our new curriculum...which, by the way I am really enjoying. It's a little frustrating sometimes, but nice to be teaching in a way that makes me feel like I know what I am doing. The kids seem to enjoy it as well. I have a student teacher who will be with me until December 13th and it has really helped some of my special friends. I think the extra structure of 2 adults in the room is beneficial for them. She has been doing a nice job, which is no surprise since she comes from the best school ever!! :) Iowa State, she is returning to Ames in January to start her ambitious. I think this mother of 4 will wait until she's raised her family for such high personal accomplishments!! :) I love to spend time with my little (and not so little) ones too much to be extra busy with a masters degree. Speaking of little ones...they are growing so fast! Jacob is starting driver's education next week as well as wrestling practice, he will keep us running no doubt! Hayley is enjoying school and seems to be doing very well in 5th grade. Casey is certainly 2 and occassionally likes to remind us with her defiant independence "I do it!". She is so much fun and Jacob and Hayley are building her vocabulary daily. Eve is just over 6 months now and rolls all over the room. No crawling or teeth yet, but I think we are on the brink of both. She cries when mommy leaves the room and makes me feel guilty whenever I'm not near her!! She is definately an easier baby to care for than Casey was though. Casey has moved into Hayley's room, they got new bunkbeds and are enjoying their "sisterhood". We moved Eve into the nursery (she was in our bedroom) last night. She woke up once, but went back to sleep on her own...:) Maybe mommy will start to get a full night's sleep again for least til we are blessed with another one (hopefully next year)!! :) Well, I better get busy and start on my schoolwork so I am ready for conferences this week. My little cousin, Savannah, and her class should have a letter to you soon, I hope. She is taking the envelope to school tomorrow. I called and gave her your address...I thought everyone used zip codes? I much prefer email, so much faster and definately more convenient. I hope to hear from you again soon! Take care and god bless,

wendy said...

hey fo!

i love their questions! (and their "facts") it makes me realize how naive and stereotypical we can be about other countries. (and how stinkin' cute kids are!)

the pizza sounds amazing! the names frighten me a bit. i would probably need you to order for me. but i would definitely help you eat it!

love to hear about your adventures! keep it coming!

take care! the "other" wendy :)

Mom said...

Those were great facts and questions about America. Sounds like a fun group of kids. My absolute favorite question was "did you vote for George Bush?" I would have loved to have been in the room when that one was asked.

Thanks for sharing all of your adventures with us.

Love You & Miss You...


Anonymous said...

This is great stuff... and the best thing is imagining them say those things in their cute little kiwi accents. :)