My girl in the front row is sniffling. We’re working on feelings with the ulterior motive that they will make masks that have some feeling and then trick or treat at my desk tomorrow. I don’t anticipate a high turnout, but maybe a few will enjoy. So the sniffling girl is staring at the sentence completion sheet “I feel happy when ___,” “I feel sad when ___,” etc. We did this at the beginning of class, but I may have failed to accurately check for understanding. This is harder to do that you might think. Or maybe you realize how hard it is, but I hadn’t when I came into this.
It’s the “when” that trips her up. The idea of consequence, one thing following from another and hinging on the word when. It might even be the case that if I had written “When do you feel happy?” she would have had no problem. I demonstrate “I feel happy when,” and grab my now empty coffee cup, “I drink coffee.” The light bulb, the knowing “Ahh!” Relief. It was not that she could not do it.
This is the hardest part. How and what can you
make help them understand?
Next class–beg, borrow, steal lesson. I have powerpoint slides of consumer goodies and intangible valuables, but only half the class is calling out “Steal!” when I show them a pair of Nike sneakers. I directly address the silent side. Pauses being intolerable, sonsengnim says “Ok, so maybe it is difficult for them to understand,” stands, directly addresses the half of the room that has been answering me, explains, sits down, and the same kids as before do not answer when the sneakers become the words “Your mother.”
A week ago he had left a lesson on the passive voice on the chalkboard. I asked one of my best student if she understood and she said she was asleep. To be fair, it’s in their textbook.
I stop at the desk of a girl in the back who says, in Korean, I can’t do English, and I persist in asking “What is worthless to you?” When she says, in Korean, bad people, I make her repeat after me, “Bad people.”
“Are worthless to me.”
“Are worthless to me.”
Worthless is the most difficult because, come down to it, what is truely without value? And in your middle school vocabulary.
“School is worthless to me because I don’t study.”
“My dog is worhtless to me because mixdog.” (Although she had written, floating at the top of the page, “my love mixdog.”)
After class, sonsengnim says that ok, maybe writing is too difficult for first grade.
One girl wrote “Dream is valuable to me” and I wish I knew what was in her head when she put it down.