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?
*Where abouts in London do you live?
It was incredibly interesting and semi-insightful.