Monday, November 19, 2007

Out of the mouths of babes....

I subbed for an English teacher Thursday and Friday last week. Don't you think it's funny that we're the only country in the world that makes us take classes in our own language? And, we are requiring that Hispanics coming into our country take Spanish? And, that our command of our own language is so poor?? And, no, this post will not be grammatically perfect.

But, I digress.

These were middle-schoolers in my charge. By Friday, I had fallen in love with all of them, even the ones named by the teacher that were supposed to cause me many problems. They were so funny. Some scenarios:

One lad looks at me funny. He says, "You look like Jamie Leigh Curtis." I reply, "Well, I suppose I've been told that." Under my breath I mutter, "Yeah, maybe if she gained 100 pounds." Another lad shouts, "JAMIE LEIGH CURTIS GAINED 100 POUNDS?!?"

It's reading and book review time. One young fellow is looking at the book shelf. For a really, REALLY, long time. I finally go over and ask him, "What are you looking for? May I help?" He says, "I can't find the book I was reading to do my review." "What was the book?" I asked. "Call of the Wild," he responds. "Well, go sit down and try to do as much as you can, and I'll hunt around for it." He sits and I KNOW that book is there. I hated it back in the old days and I hate it now, and every Language Arts class has more than a fair supply of the heart-breaking novel. And, there it is. Sitting right there. I take it over to him. "That's not it," he says. "Yes, it is. It's Call of the Wild by Jack London." I reply. "No, it's not. That book has 345 pages. Mine had 295," he says authoritatively, "so this can't be the book." ?!? Oy.

The teacher, ever so kind, left a boat-load of work for the kids to do in the last 2 days before Thanksgiving break, and you know they were just itching to do it all. She left a worksheet for the Gifted and Talented class. It was about complex and compound sentences. She left instructions for them to do some extra sentence analyzing besides just identifying which sentences are complex and which are compound. The kids look at the worksheet, and by the looks on their faces I contemplate calling 911 for mass resuscitation. "We DON'T know what this means!" The wails begin. And, as they were proper little G&T's, I knew they could see their entire future collapse before their very eyes. They would be destitute forever, living in a cardboard box, eating cold and stale McDonald's french fries from the McDumpster. Whoa was them. Panic ensued. I rang the little apple bell on the teacher's desk to quiet them down. They looked at me, silent and shocked. "Your teacher doesn't ring this little bell to get your attention?" I ask.
"No, she just screams."

SOOOO I explain, 3 or 4 times, the difference between a compound and a complex sentence. They work on the worksheets, muttering and whining, and beg to take them home overnight to study more. They bring them back the next day and the next assignment is horrific. Write 10 COMPLEX sentences about Will or Jim in Something Wicked This Way Comes. The blood drains from their faces. We go over it ONE MORE TIME. They start writing. They've got it! They are EVEN splitting the independent clause and putting the dependent clause in the middle! One kid, at a table of three students, raises his hand. I go over and he wants me to read his sentence. It's a correlative sentence. I start to tell him that it's a great sentence but "actually it is a correla..." and before I can finish, they all have their fingers in their ears saying "la la la la la la." LOL. Never mind. I show him how to change it up to keep it complex.

I had the best time with those kids.


Missy said...

I bet those kids think you're the best sub ever.

You are so smart!

karen said...

Smart? I had to frantically find a book to tell me everything I needed to know...and I JUST completed a grammar refresher course no less!!
Grammar is hard. We speak the language yet we have to memorize some weird labels to explain what we're doing.

Anonymous said...

What is a correlative sentence?


karen said...

A sentence with correlative conjunctions, such as "both...and" or "either....or" or "neither...nor" or "not only...but also"

Tonight's movie is EITHER The Golden Compass OR The Passion of Christ

karen said...

Leave it to Pat to put me to the test! ;-D

Missy said...

See! I was a lit major and I had no clue. Smart means knowing you don't know it all, so you learn where to find the answer.

Happy Thanksgiving! I'm running away to NYC in a few hours, so I just wanted to share that I am truly thankful for you this year!

romelette said...

you put a smile on my face for this entry.


i wonder if my daughter would be like those kids when she grows up