Classroom Curiosities XII

This week, I encountered some dubious morals, some beautifully misquoted idioms and received a blatant bribe. Here are more snorts and giggles from the classroom:

A lesson well learnt
Many of my classes were encouraged to write compositions this week and include a fitting moral ending. My younger students wrote about a storyboard which showed a burglar being caught red-handed by some police officers. Here are some of their conclusions:

A rosy view
A terrible punishment
I think moron works well here…

Literally speaking
Sometimes, students can catch you off guard. I’m a big fan of routine and as my class entered, I said, “Bags at the back…well, you know the drill.”

I began reviewing the previous week’s work and after five minutes, one girl asked, “What is a drill?” Now, we were having renovation works next door and I was competing with the builders, so I mimicked a drill bit with my finger and buzzed. She looked even more confused.

After our spelling test, it dawned on me what she had meant. I explained the saying properly after that.

Sometimes as a teacher, you feel as though you are tricking the children. This week, after having always taught that ‘g’ has a hard sound (like in girl), I told them it can sound like /j/ too. After reading the word ‘strange,’ I asked for an example sentence. One student enthusiastically said, “It’s when you are not even on the toilet and it flushes!” Ah, the mysteries of life.

It’s in the detail
When a student adds in descriptive phrases, be it an adjective here, or an adverb there, or even a well-placed idiom, I get excited. One, because they have (finally) listened to me, and two, they are being creative and having fun with it. A recent assignment based on the theme of ‘excitement’ prompted one pupil to write, “I was on nine clouds,” whereas another taught me the Chinese phrase, “We were like ants on a hot pan.”

I like to sprinkle these in at random to test understanding. I taught my classes about pairs through playing sound bingo and repeating (with actions), “Snap! A matching pair. Which sound? /ar/!” At the end of the lesson, I asked the students to give me an example of a pair. We had a pair of shoes, a pair of glasses, a pair of trousers, then a pair of teeth. There is a tooth wobbling frenzy going around so that is about right…

Call the RSPCA
One class stumbled across the word ‘igloo’ this week. My phonics classes are able to recognise it as it is the picture reference I use for short /i/, but this older class was stumped. When I explained it is made out of snow and ice, an audible wave of “Ahh” swept the classroom. I asked who lives in igloos. Some answered polar bears or penguins, but my favourite was iguanas.

I like to motivate my students who are learning to read by telling them the benefits of feeding your brain with words. I also have a vocabulary tree in my classroom that sprouts new leaves every week and continues to grow.

Once the children have taken turns and tackled unfamiliar words with their phonics skills, I use the mantra of “See the word, hear the word, say the word for it to go in your…”. The answer is brain, but I often point to my belly, my toes or my knee to challenge them.

As all the class screamed “Brain!” in delight (because no kid would pass up the opportunity to correct their teacher when they’re being silly), one boy simply shook his head. When I asked him where the word goes, he replied, “Your heart.”

I explained the meaning of the word ‘cement’ this week. I told my class that it was used to make roads and buildings, but my partner, who is an architect, informed me that I was wrong and that tarmac and concrete are used instead.

As I encourage free discussion, one of the students asked me if it was sticky. I said it was when it is wet but dries very hard. One child then murmured, “Mmmm, marshmallows.” I told him that it wasn’t a good idea to eat it as your teeth would get stuck, and then all your teeth would have to come out and you’d be gummy.

I was wrong there too, apparently you’d get lime poisoning. Sometimes being an adult sucks.

Something fishy
A student gave me this treat as he left class this week. I tried to say no but he looked offended when I tried to give it back. It is no coincidence that we are halfway through exams at the moment. However, they did not taste like the pink Prawn Cocktail I love back home and instead gave my classroom a distinct aroma for the rest of the day.



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