“No, no you need to go to the dinosaur story – just wait she will leave!”
As a writer I love listening into others conversation and today I had the perfect set up. I was school (think big city, mainly Hispanic, African American and Somali children) getting ready to start the state tests. There was a stack of test tickets that I needed to cut and sort so I am standing with my back to the computer lab cutting away.
As I am working I hear two girls typing in their username and opening up apps for story telling. A reserve teacher is kindly helping these two kindergarten students and pointing them in the direction of easy readers and “helping them with vocabulary.” She is pointing to the little puppy. “See it says puppy right there.”
I can’t see the faces of the girls but I am thinking “oh, so sweet!”
That is when I hear this whisper -“No, no you need to go to the dinosaur story – just wait she will leave!” I turned slightly to watch and sure enough the reserve teacher moved on to students in another row of computers.
I was fascinated! What were they going to read and why were they waiting for the lady to leave?
- “See there are the carnivores!”
- “How do you know?”
- “Well, that is easy see their big teeth? They are for grinding and mashing they eat meat like me. I am a carnivore. Are you? Besides it says carnivore at the top of the page. Duh”
- “I like these guys they are herbivores – see all the plants around them.”
- “What is that guy?”
- “I am not sure but he could be a velociraptor we should read what it say about his habitat and what he eats. That will help us know who he is?”
All I could do was smile – little folks and dinosaurs and little folks with the love of big words! They went on discussing dinosaurs with names I had no idea existed.
Here was this sweet lady leading the girls to a book with low vocabulary and cute little pictures. The girls sitting quietly waiting for her to leave before they dove into the more “meaty” subject of dinosaurs and reading with a much high vocabulary.
We forget sometime that kids love words. They like new and interesting words and garb hold of all kinds of vocabulary if we let them.
So lesson learned – once again – do not teach down but teach up! Reach high and include those wonderful big words, the rich content and fabulous stories of the world around us. Our kids are waiting to soak it all in!