Wednesday, October 26, 2011

This Makes Me Sad

So I'm at Aikido last night, talking to another student while we wait for class to start. She's student teaching in a local school, just across the state line in Oklahoma, a first grade class. I was reading my grammar text, prepping the next day's lecture. She starts telling me about teaching grammar to the first graders.

"We're not allowed to call nouns nouns," she informed me. "We have to call them naming words. And get this: adjectives are called sparkle words."

"What?" I said. "Why?"

"Well, I get that nouns are the names of things. But what I don't get is why we can't tell them that they're also called nouns. Like, these are nouns. They name things."

"But," I said, stuck on her last clause, "sparkle words? Really?"

She shrugged.

"But not all adjectives sparkle," I protested. "But -- and what do you call adverbs?"

"Oh, we don't teach adverbs."

And then! Today! I'm teaching my 1203 students! It's grammar week in there too. We're on pronouns, the importance of clear antecedents, and when to use what case. So I give them this sentence:

Dave told Ethan and (I/me) the game was over.

and I asked them which pronoun was right.

Nearly all of them said I was the correct pronoun. So I showed them why me was correct -- that it was the object of the sentence; and that they would never say "Dave told I the game was over" -- and the cries of delight that rose in the room you would not believe.

I did the same thing with these sentences --

Both Sarah and (I/me) had dinner at the mall.

Ethan gave a ride to Sarah and (I/me).

--showing them the right pronouns, and why they were the right pronouns.

"You're the first one to ever explain this," one of the students said.

"That makes so much sense," said another.

"You know what my teacher in high school told me?" said a third. "She said never use me, no matter what. I got counted off every time I did."

I would put down the name of the high school he says he went to, but it is too depressing.


Anonymous said...

"Sparkle words"? So they aren't even trying with the boys.


Anonymous said...

That's exactly how I taught my 9th and 11th grade students. It's not all horrific out there in the world of public education. E