Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I Don't Know How She Swallowed a Cow

Part of the fun of teaching is seeing the light in someone's eyes when they understand something completely new. I will never grow tired of that moment. In sixth grade there are many such opportunities; one of the reasons I enjoy that age is because in most kids, it is really the transition year between childhood and the next step, and so they are primed for paradigm shift-- something during our time together will totally blow their minds. It might be as simple as opening a combination lock for the first time or having the privilege of walking down the hall not in a single-file line, but it's not an exaggeration to say that these tiny events open their eyes to a new world only before imagined-- you can take the double-takes to the bank.

I have twins in my homeroom this year who are in our school's life skills program. The 20 minutes we spend together each morning is an opportunity for them to interact with kids outside their program, even though they are behind their peers cognitively, socially, and emotionally. Tuesday is a reading day, and I have books of all levels in my classroom. This morning I gave one of the girls a copy of There Was an Old Woman who Swallowed a Fly.

It was before most of the other kids had arrived and she began to read it out loud. Her decoding skills were very good, and it was soon clear that she was comprehending what she read as well. What was also clear was that this was a totally new story to her and her sister. Their shock and amusement as the story progressed was charming. They had no idea how it would end. She swallowed a spider? She ate a cat?! Imagine that! 

Their enthusiasm and appreciation completely revived what I considered to be kind of a dumb story; I will never again hear about that silly old woman without a little giggle.

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