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¡Qué dolor!


Today a student returned after an absence with a sling on his arm, so during class greetings I said, “Carlos, ¿qué te pasó?”  What happened?!

My 7th graders are soooo respectful of the Spanish zone, so of course he asked for permission, “¿Puedo hablar en inglés?, before explaining. 

“Sí, claro,” yes, of course.

“I separated my clavicle from my shoulder.”

¡Díos mío! My goodness!  That was one I haven’t heard before.  I wrote on the board:

¿Tienes dolor de clavícula? = Do you have pain of the clavicle/ a clavicle-ache?

Tengo dolor de + parte del cuerpo = I have pain of + body part

The kids already know a lot of body part vocabulary, but what followed indicated that, apparently, they don’t know enough, not to mention, they are evidently way too hard on their bodies!

First I asked Carlos, “¿Tienes dolor de clavícula?”

Carlos gravely responded, “Sí, tengo dolor de clavícula.”

” ¡Qué horrible!  ¡Pobre Carlos!” How horrible!  Poor Carlos!  A smattering of Pobre Carlos‘s resounded throughout the room.  They love to exclaim pobre anybody.

Then I continued to ask the rest of the class ¿Cómo están? How are you doing?  More hands than usual shot up.

¿Luna, cómo estás tú?”

“Yo tengo dolor de…” She was gesturing with her hands around her entire upper body, so I wasn’t sure where to begin prompting.

“¿Tienes dolor de cabeza?” Do you have a headache?

“Noooo, tengo dolor de…”

“¿Tienes dolor de estómago?” Do you have a stomach-ache?  (The usual culprits.)

“¿Cómo se dice everywhere?”

I wrote on the board:  todo el cuerpo = the whole body

“Oooooh, tienes dolor de TODO el cuerpo.” Ohhh, you have pain of the whole body.

“¡Sí!”  This seemed to please her greatly.

Then, another eager hand.

“Ema, ¿Cómo estás tú?”

“Estoy bien.”

“¡Qué excelente!  ¿No tienes dolor también?” That’s great!  You don’t have pain too?

“Well, sí…” Pause.   “ ¿Cómo se dice ankle?”

I wrote on the board:  tobillo = the ankle

“Tengo dolor de… tobillo.”

“¡No me digas!  Pobre Ema…” You don’t say!  Poor Ema…  (smiles.)

Then, “Isabel, ¿Cómo estás tú?”

“¿Cómo se dice Achilles?”

Hmmm, I love when they stump me.  I don’t believe I ever had the occasion to talk about my or anyone else’s Achilles tendon while living in Guatemala.  So, we looked it up and wrote on the board:

tendón de Achiles = Achilles tendon

Smiles all around — they love cognates.

“Tengo dolor de.. tendón de Achiles.”

“Es muy interesante, Isabel.  ¿Por qué?” That’s very interesting.  Why?

“¿Puedo hablar en inglés?”

“Sí, gracias por preguntar.” Yes, thanks for asking!

“I was sitting in my room, and when I stood up my ankle popped and my Achilles started hurting ever since then.”

“Ooo, lo siento, Isabel.  ¡Qué dolor!” I’m sorry.  What pain!

“Galena, ¿cómo estás tú?” I thought Galena might move us on from having pain, as Galena ALWAYS says that she is emocionada, excited, pretty much every single day, and then tells us why.  But…

“Tengo dolor de…” She was holding her throat, and I did not remember having emphasized “throat” during the body vocabulary unit last year, as it didn’t happen to be taught during sore throat season!

I wrote on the board: garganta = throat

“¡Tengo dolor de garganta!”

” Ay, lo siento, Galena.  Clase, Galena tiene dolor de garganta — ¡Qué horrible!”

As I turned to call on the next sufferer, she quickly added, “¡Y estoy emocionada!”

At least some things remain in good health:)


Twister in the sky


I love my 7th grade Spanish classes!  I teach using TPRS (teaching proficiency through reading and story-telling).  For those unfamiliar, this involves highlighting the stuctures/vocabulary that you want kids to acquire by repeating and recycling them with interesting (and often ridiculous) details that the kids come up with themselves.  Almost all of the words used are already known so that brains are available to acquire the new structures that are the focus of the lesson.  After facts are added to the story, hundreds of questions are asked using the structures.  After the kids are very familiar with the story aurally, they read a similar story using the same structures and vocabulary.

Last week the kids bounced right back from all of that turkey and mashed potatoes by coming up with the following story.  (Their story was in Spanish, of course!) “Jesús,” the main character, is a student in the class.  While he came up with some of the details, it was truly a group effort, and everyone in the class was bursting with energy to contribute.  At the end of the first day of story-telling, Jesús himself came up to me, beaming, and said, “Can I get my own copy of this?”  When I replied, “Yes, the whole class will get a copy!”, his smile almost leaped off of his face.  “Sweet!”

I agree.  Sweet.

Can you guess what structure we were working on?

There is a boy who is named Jesús.    He is tall, blond, very smart, and funny.
Jesús plays Twister everyday.
With whom does he play Twister?  Jesús plays Twister alone, without friends, because Jesús is a good Twister-player and his friends are bad Twister-players.  So, Jesús doesn’t like to play Twister with his friends.  He only likes to play twister alone, without friends.  Jesús is a really good Twister-player!
¿When does Jesús play Twister?  He doesn’t play during the day!  He plays Twister at night.  Jesús plays Twister at night, every night.  He plays on Mondays, he plays on Tuesdays, he plays on Wednesdays, he plays on Thursdays, he plays on Fridays, he plays on Saturdays, and he plays on Sundays.  At night.  Every night.
For how long?  Jesús doesn’t play for one or two hours.  He plays Twister for 10 hours every night!
Does Jesús play Twister in his house?  No, no, no! Jesús doesn’t play Twister in his house. Where does he play?   He plays Twister in the sky.  It’s incredible!
How is it possible to play Twister in the sky?
Jesús says, << I play Twister in the sky with my magic Twister board that floats. It’s incredible!  I am an incredible Twister-player.”

¿Dónde está el sombrero?


Here’s a slice of my life today:

My co-teacher for 6th period 8th grade Spanish was absent (yesterday and today), so things were a bit disheveled, although I did have the assistance of a substitute teacher.  It is important to note that my co-taught class takes place on the other side of the wall from “my” classroom, in my co-teachers room.

The class had earned 50 stars for positive behavior prior to Thanksgiving break, but in the holiday rush, we had not taken time to plan out their earned fiesta.  I realized today that we had better research and sign-up for recipes, being that the fiesta is to take place on Friday!  So, the substitute teacher and I took down the sombrero from atop the cupboard (where it is least distracting to middle school students), and put little slips of paper with the words “entrada” (appetizer), “comida” (main food), “postre” (dessert), and “bebida” (drink) written upon them inside the sombrero.  Upon entering, kids each selected a category and found a recipe, and the class went on…

But the sombrero, emptied of papelitos, didn’t make it back up to the top of the cupboard, and led to a typical middle school/sombrero silly incident.  To non-teachers, I’m sure this will sound like a simply ridiculous thing to gripe about.  But it is just one of those things I sometimes need to gripe about at the end of the day when I’ve spent my mastery (modern term for study hall:) searching for a sombrero!

A student, who we shall call Miguel, who wasn’t even in the above-mentioned class, apparently, for a reason that remains blurry to me, entered the room at the very moment of transition between classes when teachers are shuffling papers and students are changing rooms, and took off with the sombrero.  This wasn’t just any student.  It was the student with whom I spend the most time following through on behavioral issues, a student who is in my mastery and my 8th period Spanish class, in the next room over.

I don’t know if he had the sombrero when he checked in with me in mastery and asked to go to his locker– for all I know, I did that horrible answer-without-looking-up thing and didn’t notice– but a minute later, another teacher from down the hall came by to ask if it was my sombrero that Miguel was wearing in the hall.  I wasn’t sure if this was an accusation (no hats rule), a suggestion, or simply a verification.  I glanced up and saw that my sombrero was indeed sitting on top of my cupboard.  In any case, it turned out she had asked whose sombrero he was wearing, and asked him to take it off.  Of course, he lied and said he had permission to wear my sombrero, didn’t take it off, and continued on his merry way to his locker.  The teacher didn’t like that he had lied and ignored her, and asked me to send him to her upon return.  Okay.

Ten minutes later (looooooong walk to the locker and back), Miguel returned SIN SOMBRERO.  I asked him, “Where is the sombrero that you took from Miss L’s room?”  “Oh, I gave it to Jacob.”

I sent Miguel off to see the lied-to and ignored teacher down the hall, and called Jacob’s mastery.  “Do you have a sombrero that doesn’t belong to you?”  “Oh, Mrs. So-and-so has it.”  He was referring to the assistant principal.  “Why does she have it?”  Pause.  “I gave it to her.”  Great!  I saved my breath, thanked Jacob, and moved on with my day.  Note to self, retrieve sombrero after classes.

Jacob, who isn’t even a student of mine, came by at the end of mastery and presented me the sombrero.  I wondered how it came to be in his possession again, but decided it just wasn’t important enough to shower with any more attention.

After the last class of the day, I stopped by the office to check my mailbox.  The assistant principal called out to me from her office, “What’s the deal with this sombrero?”

Ahhhhhh, what is the deal?

not just any speck on the map


I awoke this morning feeling like I had just returned from time abroad, although yesterday I returned only from a 15-minute ferry ride away where I had been camping for three days and two nights with my seventh graders.  I am extremely lucky to live in the beautiful little city of Portland, Maine, where the air is salty and the view out to sea is dotted with sails and islands.  As my husband, dog, and I paused this morning to look out from our usual walk atop the Eastern Promenade overlooking the Casco Bay, I spotted Cow Island just off the tip of Great Diamond.  What a funny feeling to look out at a seemingly nondescript lump of trees sticking out of the ocean, and to think that just yesterday I was ziplining upside-down across the center of that lump, and then listening to each of my advisory group students reflect on how they had grown individually and as a group during the last 3 days.   Remembering our first circle debrief on day one, in which  10 twelve and thirteen-year-olds could not help but to repeatedly interrupt each other with nervous giggles and forced jokes and could not sustain a silent pause of more than one second, I marveled at that final memory of  thoughtful reflection peppered by more sparse and less nervous giggles, and I sent a smile across the water to that not-so-insignificant speck on the water.

le festival d’été, vue de dehors


Festival d'été de Québec

Est-ce que vous êtes au courant du <<Festival d’été de Québec>>?  C’est vraiment incroyable!  Je continue de m’étonner que je viens de moins de six heures d’ici, mais je ne savais presque rien de cette cité telle pleine de vie jusqu’à je suis arrivée.  Quelle Americaine je suis, vivant dans ma bulle!  Si vous venez de Maine (comme moi), IL FAUT faire un petit voyage l’été 2011 pour connaître l’expérience.  On peut écouter la musique de tous côtés pendant 11 jours dans le charmant Vieux-Québec!  Maintenant que j’ai proclamé mon enthousiasme pour le festival, je dois reconnaître que je suis allée seulement une fois …  Ça me rend triste, mais je ne me suis encore rendu compte qu’on pourrait passer le festival de dehors et bien s’amuser, ce que j’ai appris vendredi, le 9e jour du festival.  Mieux vaut tard que jamais!  C’est vrai — on peut ou acheter un bracelet qui vous donne entrée à tous les concerts ou aller aux Pleines d’Abraham et savourer l’atmosphère de l’autre côté de la clôture.  Comme je suis étudiante et mon budget est très petit, j’étais très heureuse à pouvoir écouter première K’Naan et plus tard les Black-Eyed Peas (et les voir sur un écran en m’asseyant sur l’herbe et sous un arbre dans les merveilleux Pleines d’Abraham.)  D’être entourée de gens réjouis, de sons endiablés, de l’air frais au coucher du soleil… ça c’est exquis.  On va me trouver ici l’été prochain 🙂



fondant sous soleil

glace citron rafraîchissante

à couper le souffle

Mes 10 meilleurs excuses pour pas commencer mon blog jusqu’à le dixième jour de mon voyage:


10.  Problèmes techniques! Premièrement, je n’ai pas pu faire fonctionner la connexion au reseau sans fils pendant trois jours.  Il y a des laboratoires avec beaucoup d’ordinateurs au campus, mais JE DÉTESTE passer le temps dans une salle plein d’ordinateurs.  Je suis habituée à utiliser mon propre ordinateur.  Oui, je suis gâté ! Duexièmement, quand je suis arrivée à Québec, j’ai découvert une rupture dans le fil de mon caméra ☹ Alors, j’ai pris beaucoup de photos, mais je ne peux pas les mettre en ligne.  Il fallait commander un nouveau fil, et maintenant on le doit attendre…

9.  Manque de temps! On dirait que plusieurs de mes excuses appartiennent sous cette excuse.  Mais je parle d’être étudiante avec 4 heures de classe chaque jour, des devoirs correspondants, et un tas d’activités (voyez ci-dessous).

La Ville de Québec a déjà annoncé mardi qu'elle prolongeait les heures d'ouverture de certaines piscines municipales et des jeux d'eau. Le Soleil, Jean-Marie Villeneuve

8. Le temps Pendant les premières 9 jours ici, j’ai appris le mot et j’ai senti le significance : « CANICULE. » Est-ce que j’ai besoin d’expliquer plus ?  Mais maintenant je parle CELSIUS un peu plus couramment:)

7.  La Cabane à Sucre Le dernière jeudi, j’ai été présentée à « un morceau » de la culture et de l’histoire Québecoise.  Avec plusieurs cent étudiants de mon programme, je suis allée a une cabane à sucre. Là-bas, nous avons vu la manière traditionnelle à obtenir le sirop d’érable, et nous avons passé plusieurs heures en mangeant de la nourriture traditionnellement Québecoise : du jambon, des saucisses, des fèves au lard, des crêpes, des omelettes, et du pain.  Il y avait de la musique « traditionnelle » aussi, mais c’était un peu bizarre quand ils ont commencé a jouer « YMCA. »  Il faisait TROP CHAUD, et j’avais de la difficulté de m’amuser (voyez ci-dessus).

6.  Des films L’école de langues offre des films ou francophones ou doublés en français, et j’ai vu 2 jusqu’à maintenant :  « L’Auberge espagnole » et « Le violon rouge. »  J’aimais les deux beaucoup, mais je ne vais pas écrire beaucoup à propos de ce sujet maintenant.

5. Mont Sainte Anne J’ai passé toute la journée de samedi en faisant une randonnée au très beau Mont Sainte Anne.  Je suis allée avec le groupe de vitesse moyenne, et grâce a Dieu que je ne suis pas allée avec « les sportifs. »  Mon Dieu !  J’étais assez fatiguée au fin, et j’ai dormi comme une bûche cette nuit là!

4.  le Tango J’ai voulu danser le tango à Québec depuis le moment où j’ai planifié mon été ici.  J’ai entendu du tango à Montreal, mais j’ai dû chercher l’Internet pour vérifier si il y eût du tango à la cité de Québec aussi.  Et… oui !  Il y a beaucoup d’opportunités de danser le tango ici.  Malheureusement, j’ai dansé seulement une fois jusqu’à maintenant, mais C’ÉTAIT UNE MERVEILLE !  Chaque mercredi soir d’été, il y a une milonga en plein air aux Plaines d’Abraham dans une grande kiosque derrière le Musée de Beaux Arts.  On a besoin de bien écouter la musique d’Argentine pour y arriver.  (Il y aura plus à ce sujet bientôt ☺ )

3.  Mon velo Mon mari m’a acheté une nouvelle bicyclette juste avant ce voyage !  Alors, j’ai la liberté d’explorer la cité, et j’ai trouvé que Québec est très cyclable et très agréable à faire du velo.

2.  le Vieux-Québec Je ne vais pas écrire beaucoup à ce sujet non plus en ce moment, parce que demain je commence l’atelier « la Découverte de Québec, » et je sais que je vais avoir beaucoup plus à dire les semaines qui viennent. Une chose est sûre, c’est qu’il est très pittoresque.  J’ai envie de vous montrer mes photos !  On attend…

1.  Et maintenant, l’excuse numéro 1 pour pas commencer mon blog jusqu’à le dixième jour à Québec :  J’AI LA TÊTE TOUTE MÉLANGÉE ! Je peux lire et comprendre assez bien, mais quand je commence à parler, je mélange le français et l’espagnole, et toujours j’ai un mot sur le bout de la langue ou un trou de mémoire… Mais je me rends compte que ça ne va pas changer de sitôt… Alors, je peux essayer de « de-mélanger » (de clarifier) les mots et la grammaire et la vie étrangère en bloguant !