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 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:
(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