Monday, October 20, 2008

A funny topping to write about

My fourth graders, who are English Language Learners (ELLs), are accustomed to writing daily in every subject. On most mornings, I post a few journal prompts at the board, from which they may select one to get them started. Every now and then though, between the morning routines and the hundred things that happen simultaneously before first period, I neglect to write a topic at the board.

This morning, one of the boys raised his hand and asked, “Mrs. L? What are the toppings?”

“The toppings?”

“The toppings Miss. What are we supposed to write about today?”

“OH! The toppings! Well let me write them for you right this minute! I’m sorry about that!” I replied, trying to hide my amusement. I approached the board, and wrote the following:

extra cheese

(I couldn’t help myself.)

“That’s for a pizza!” he giggled, as his classmates caught on and laughed.

I then took advantage of that teachable moment to display two words I hadn’t realized might cause some confusion. Toppings and topics sound different to you and me, being native speakers of English. However, for those who are learning this language, these words may be difficult to differentiate.

Once we all got over a case of the giggles, we discussed the different spellings and meanings of these words. For homework, they will write a couple of sentences using each of the words, showing they know the difference between the two.

After 18 years in the classroom, I’m still learning not to take anything for granted, and I’m reminded about how much fun I’m still having


The Fearless Blog said...

Great story Cassy!

I laughed...

Two words my ESL students have trouble writing and pronouncing are the words this/these. Again as you mentioned when they pronounce the words they both sound the same so they forget the meanings, the singular and plural forms and therefore write them incorrectly.

I have become a "master" at interpreting accents since I am exposed to so many, and although I may indicate the errors when they write, I am careful not to discourage "speaking" by constantly correcting their speech. I instead chose the appropriate moment and respectful distinguish the words and the various sounds.

You, however, found a more creative and fun way to teach a valuable lesson. I am keeping notes. :)

Mr. Magoo... said...

Y es por detalles como este, que tu trabajo es la tarea mas noble y la que mas debemos de agradecer en el mundo. Que hubiera dado yo por haber tenido maestros como tu cuando era nino, pero bueno, cada uno me dejo algo, asi tu vas dejando huella, creeme, estas cosas se quedan en uno....
Una felicitacion por tan hermosa tarea.

Betty said...

What a great teaching moment. I'm sure the kids will always remember the words and their meanings. A sense of humor is the best ingredient to add to teaching.

Robin Easton said...

What a poignant story. I love how you went along with it and they got it. So delightful and refreshing. Wish I'd had a teacher like you!! :)
One who knew all the toppings!!!!

Catherine @ Sharp Words said...

Oh, that's really funny and sweet. You seem to have students with a good sense of humour which is always a plus for you - and I'm sure it's a great plus for /them/ that you have a good one too!