Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Geneology and the Difference Between States and Countries

One of my favorite parts of teaching is that you never know what to expect.  You can sit and plan and try to think about everything that could happen, but guaranteed some student will do or say the unexpected.

On the first day of school I was reminded of this fact.

One of my first conversations of the year went like this...
Teacher: "Oh you are N.K.?  Are you related to G.K.?"
Student: "Yes"
Teacher: "Did you know I taught G.N. in 3rd grade?"
Student: "Yes, he told me"
Teacher: "Well, how are you two related"
Student: "By our last name."

He said it so matter-of-factly.  I'm sure he was probably thinking what a dumb teacher he was stuck with considering I even asked that question.  After a few more "ignorant teacher" questions I did finally discover they were brothers.

Then a couple hours later as the students were completing a scavenger hunt where they had to find a student who met certain criteria such as "had a pet over 10lbs", "had two digits the same in their phone number", "had a sibling under 3 years old", I was reminded again.

One of the criteria asked the students to find a classmate who had relatives in another country.  I was amazed by all the classmates who seemed to have these foreign relatives.  When the time ran out and we all came back together to share the information they learned about their new friends, I couldn't wait to hear where everybody lived.

Teacher: "I saw a lot of you have relatives who live in another country. Who wants to tell me where their relatives live?"
Hands go up all around the room.
I point to a student.
Student 1: "Texas"
Teacher: "Well that is pretty far away, but that is a different state that is still in the USA.  It is not a country. Who else?"
Student 2: "Florida"
Teacher: "Again that is far away, but is still in the United States so it isn't a different country."
I went on to correct the misconception that neither Pennsylvania or Virginia were out of the country either.
I breathed a sigh of relief when I heard that one of my students has an uncle in London, another has family in Haiti, and another in Mexico.

Guess I know what I'll be teaching this year.
Geography, anyone???

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