The schools in my neck of the woods reopened today after a two-week Christmas break. It didn’t take anybody too long at all to get back into the swing of things, either kids or teachers.
I was working with one of my reading groups this morning, reviewing how to survey a non-fiction book prior to actually reading it. I was trying to emphasize to the ten-year-olds gathered around the table that they could glean a whole lot of information just from examining the cover, the title page, the table of contents, and the index. (Try it sometime – you might be surprised at how that gets your brain already thinking about what you’re going to read and how much easier the information then gets in there when you do read!)
We started by looking at the front and back covers of the book, which was entitled “Les méduses” (“Jellyfish”). I asked each kid to tell the group some detail that he or she learned just by looking at the photos. Then we moved on to the title page and we did the same thing. Both the cover and the title page had several photos of jellyfish – which makes perfect sense, since the book was about jellyfish. The kids came up with all kinds of things, such as the colours of the jellyfish, the apparent size of them, what else was in the water around them, and so on.
We moved on to the table of contents. There was yet another photo of a jellyfish there, along with the requisite list of the various chapters of the book. Before reading the title of each chapter, I had the kids tell me what they noticed about this jellyfish as compared to the photos we’d previously seen. Again, they mentioned things like colour and size.
One girl decided to be a little more precise. She began, “It looks like the testicles of this jellyfish …”
She trailed off. The other kids looked at her, stunned. Then they started to snicker. She bravely carried on, face reddening slightly.
“No – wait – they’re not testicles – they’re – um – tentacles! And they’re longer on this jellyfish than on the others!”
I couldn’t even look at her. “Yes, you’re right,” I replied, trying to keep as neutral a tone as I could. “These tentacles are quite a bit longer on this jellyfish.”
The other kids kept giggling for a while, but eventually settled down and we continued the lesson.
Now, one thing you have to understand is that this happened entirely in French. So really, isn’t the important thing here that this ten-year-old French Immersion student actually knew how to say “testicles” in perfect French? Isn’t it??
And I don’t even want to speculate exactly HOW she knew it.