Thursday, November 08, 2007

"Where did you hear that?"

Whenever one of my students says something in class that I am surprised that he/she knows, I can't help but ask "Where did you learn that?" or "How do you know that?" Just this week I found myself questioning two students.

*In my kindergarten class we are making family books and on the cover the students drew pictures of their families. J drew her sister. She explained that she is sixteen, lives in Mexico, and has a baby. "Wow. Does she go to school?" I asked. "Yes. My grandma keeps an eye on the baby." Just in case you didn't catch that, my five year old English Language Learner said her grandma "keeps an eye on the baby." I wonder where she could have learned such an idiomatic expression because I know that she speaks Spanish with her family so she didn't overhear it in a conversation about the baby. Did she talk about her baby-sitting grandma to her teacher and then the teacher rephrased it and she just remembered? I did try to ask "Where did you hear that?" But being five she really didn't get what I was asking her and just explained again that her grandma keeps an eye on the baby.

*There was another story that I did get to the bottom of this week. One of my second graders read an independent book about a grandpa who was bored because he didn't work and had nothing to do. Then found a new hobby and was happy again. On the graphic organizer E wrote that the problem in the story was that the "grandpa was fire." I understood that he meant "fired." I asked him to show me where in the book he saw that the grandpa was fired. He showed me the line that said "Grandpa Martin did not work." Smart thinking, I thought. He inferred that the Grandpa was fired because the story said he did not work. But why would he think he was fired? How did he even know that word? Was someone in his family fired? I asked "How do you know that word 'fired.' Where did you hear it?" He explained that in his class they have jobs such as librarian, pencil monitor, etc. and if they don't do a good job the teacher fired them. I praised him for the inference and the connection . . . and then explained what it meant to be retired.

I don't know if it's odd for a teacher to ask "How do you know that?" but if you don't ask you'll never know. I usually find their answers to be quite interesting.


Maryam in Marrakesh said...

I found those answers interesting, too! And I have to say, that I think it is a good thing that the sister is still going to school even though she has a baby. I had my first baby at twice her age.

PS Thank you so much for visiting my blog in Marrakech:-)

Anrosh said...

I often ask your title question to the 6 year old neighbor whose language skills do belie his age. To the question " where did you hear that?" he sometimes answers - Just like that or I heard it from Mathew's mom or on spongebob or from nicholas, his school mate. I guess children at that age learns 20% at school, 20% at home, 20% from the peers, 20% from TV , 15% reading and 5% working out their brain.

Pilosa said...

I think it's always important to ask kids where they learn things because you can even get a sense of what they're life outside of school is like. I have a kid who learns things from watching Spiderman, so now I try to incorporate Spiderman stuff into my lessons :) And it gets them to practice language - always useful.