Saturday, September 28, 2013

I tutored a little boy today who is kind of an exaggeration of little kids and their imaginations. One way we get through our math work is by allowing him to tell a story for every three or four equations that he solves. Today the problem began:

"There were 7 knights, 4 jackal guys from Achman Rah, 3 cowboys, 2 zebras, and 3 guys of the Trubba the Hun."

He refers to his baby brother as Egbert and his mom and dad have started to do so as well. He's part dragon and Egbert is his dragon name, that's why.

Kids are strange and funny and being able to listen to that weirdness is for me the best thing about teaching young ages. They have no shame and despite the fact that they may be inclined to misbehave, they also are so eager to please. I have one student who when we wrote our 'Hopes and Dreams for First Grade' a couple weeks ago, wrote that he wanted to rob a bank, go to jail, and be bad. He loves the attention this gets him, but when he showed it to me that day I told him it made me sad. Later he amended the writing, adding that he would be more nice. "I love it! That's wonderful! Excellent!" As I was hanging their work up later I noticed he had concluded with an additional line: "Be the dumbest and ugliest kid in the class ever." 

I got a lot of cute mileage from our mini-unit on Mexico during the week of Independence Day, which included a Skype call to Mono and such questions as "Do you have allergies?" and "What noise do foxes make?".  As a class we brainstormed things we had in common and things that were different between our two countries. Dominick raised his hand eagerly, "We both have tequila." I couldn't very well squash his dreams by laughing at him so I kind of smiled politely, long enough for him to give me the most beatific smile you can imagine. He exuded an angelic glow, so proud of himself for his contribution, and I swear his eyelashes fluttered.

Speaking of tequila, several weeks back another first grade teacher at my school asked what the picture was for the letter 'w' in our alphabet cards. It was a wombat, which are either really ugly or really cute, but here's a cute one. 'W' is a tricky letter in the Spanish alphabet because it doesn't occur historically. A lot of Mexican slang has 'w' in it - wakala, for example (ew), or wey (dude, guy) - but that comes I think from the fact that Mexican Spanish borrows so heavily from English, and English has a lot of w words. The 'correct' version of those words, in the sense of being true to Spanish phonetics is guácala and güey, and they are sometimes written that way but not often as I've seen. 

Words that have 'w' in Spanish are borrowed from English. Maybe there's an exception to this but I can't think of any. I looked in a Spanish dictionary for w words and you can see some examples. 

(Hoo, take a deep breath, this is a lot of language stuff that I adore and that bores most people, but the liquor connection is coming soon).

So... the teacher who did not recognize the wombat picture is from Spain. It turns out that in their alphabet pictures for 'w', they would have a picture of whiskey. 

Anyway this story continues because whiskey is not the only image that's apparently at home in a Spanish classroom but never to be seen in one here. I wish I had a picture to show of this but unfortunately I can't remember the website where I found the worksheet. I was looking for alphabet review for morning work and I saw something on one that I thought couldn't possibly be. My eyes went from the image to the letter to confirm that actually yes, this is 'P for pecho." Breast. Out there, for your first grader to see. Which is kind of weird, but I'm also pretty confident the kids who 
see a naked boobie will remember that one in the future.

will not be testing that hypothesis.

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