Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Practice What You Teach

The dawn of 2015 saw the advent (arrival, from the Latin ad meaning to and vent meaning come) of my third Word-a-Day calendar, as well. A couple of years ago a student gave me one as a holiday gift, and I've been hooked ever since. One thing that always delights me about it is how much the students like it, too: rarely a day goes by that one sixth grader or another does not comment on the word, and some even ask if they can have it to keep. It's such a conversation piece that more than one former student has stopped by to check the words for their coming birthdays.

I always set aside any page with a word that fits our word study parts, and most recently that word was transpontine. It is particularly timely, as we happen to be learning about the prefix trans this week. My friend Mary, who also teaches sixth grade English, noticed that page on my desk this morning when she stopped by.

"Transpontine," I said. "What do you think it means?"

"Across something," she answered.

"What does "pont" mean?" I asked. "Like Ponte Vecchio?"

Mary took Russian in high school, though, so my romance language clue was not very helpful. She is Catholic, though. "Pontiff is pope," she said.

I frowned. She was right. "Pont means bridge," I told her, my brain working away at the pope puzzle.

"The pope is a bridge..." Mary was thinking out loud.

"Between heaven and earth?" I finished.

"See how we did that?" she said.

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