I typically slice during lunch so the day doesn’t get away from me. Of course, today’s lunch came, and all I had for ideas were… crickets. Nothing. Writer’s block. I decided to postpone my writing, pushing it off for lack of anything with substance. Little did I know my very next class would present me with the nugget below.
It’s 12:25, and I’ve kicked off my 3rd/4th grade combined ESL class. We’re using numbered heads together (a great structure if you’ve never used it) to write opinions using strong vocabulary. I notice the back table is struggling in the first round, which happens to be about skeletons. I slide my chair over to held guide the discussion.
“Alright I see you’ve all written something down and are ready to put your heads together, share, and select which one you think is the strongest. What do you all have?”
I look around. And stop.
Skeletons are damd. Reads the first whiteboard.
“Mhmm, mhmm,” I say aloud. Internally, my mind is racing. Does that really say ‘Skeletons are damned’? I mean… I guess they are. But is that what she actually wrote?
No one says anything.
My internal dialogue presses on. Should I ask her to share hers so I can hear the pronunciation? But then what if it really is ‘damned’?
My thoughts are interrupted by Lupe*. “I mean… I kind of agree with Natalia*. But I also don’t know if that’s the best one. I kind of want to pick another one.”
Great. Well, that didn’t particularly help.
But Lupe continues, “I guess skeletons are dumb. But I also like Stefan’s* sentence too.”
I smile. DUMB. That’s a ‘u’, not an ‘a’. And that’s a classic reversal. DUMB. Not Damd. Ha!
Relieved to have escaped a discussion about the appropriateness of using ‘damned’ in a 3rd grade lesson, I continue guiding the group discussion towards consensus.
I roll back toward the front of the room, tucking the story into the folds of my memory to be retrieved after school. Thank goodness I didn’t write something inane at lunch, just to complete a writing assignment. This was worth the wait!
*Student names have been changed.