I’m continuing to blitz my way through a novel with my beginning class. I am delighted by what they’re showing me at this point. I am also doing a spoken kind of embedding with the lion story in that group, so as to add in the last of the structures we hadn’t used much (today’s was “what is happening/what was happening”). One of my level one kids astounded me today because I had started off in past tense (after telling the story first in present tense), and when I asked what happened next–had the mother screamed?–she said that the mother had laughed. That was a past-tense, reflexive verb that she nailed without thinking about it. She had no idea that she had done anything wonderful. One of the other kids asked, “What does [laughed] mean?” and the first one said, “Like [laughs] only it’s already happened.” They’re getting it! They also all used (intermittently) genitive case for possession and dative case for approaching something. It’s a strong reminder to me of why we teach this way. We can explain the grammar when they ask, and call their attention to new endings when necessary, but they learn it by hearing it when they understand.
The kids themselves asked whether we could re-tell the lion story instead of starting a new one, and that also reminded me that kids like to hear things multiple times, knowing that they’re going to understand. And embroidering what they already understand makes it easy for the ones on the edge to hang on. They know we’ll come back to something familiar. Hmm…it’s a good lesson for me!