Sunday, December 27, 2009

Ariella Beats the System

A digression on education.

Ariella is a fantastic reader. She can pretty much pick up any book in Hebrew (provided it's vowel-inated) and read it. In this way, she has now reached my own level of reading proficiency. Never mind the 24-year age difference. She actually sat and read the Hebrew-English dictionary on Friday night. And was very dismayed to find out that while "Ari" was an entry, "Ariella" was not.

However, she does not always understand all of the words. When I do her homework with her, I always ask her to summarize the paragraph in English. If we come across a word she doesn't know, we look it up. You'd think, why look it up? This is first grade reading - can't you just translate it for her? But, if you thought that, you'd be wrong. Many of these words are far beyond my meager vocabulary. For example, thus far, not one story has consisted entirely of the words "Shalom! Mah Shlomech?"

I noticed that the ever-elusive "they" pick words that fit with the sounds they want to teach, but are not necessarily a first-grade-level word. For example, I can't tell you how many stories centered on a "chakah" - a fishing rod. I also can't tell you how many of these children spend weekends with their dads fishing for trout, but I'm guessing it's not a whole lot. The Hebrew word for "molt" has also appeared from time to time. Because when they're not casting a line, the children are clearly watching their pet toucan lose its feathers.

Of course, we do the same thing in English. Many of those "early reader" books love to include words like "jig" and "rig." Yes, easy to read and fits with the rule, but not words first graders have a whole lot of experience with.
(From my early reader, Reading Fun with Aliyahbyaccident
"Come on kids, hop into Dad's rig for a fun day on the lake!"
"Do you have your fishing rod?"
"We'll leave Matty here; he's molting."
"Mo-o-o-o-o-m, Meg is dancing a jig again! Can't you make her stop!"
"If you kids don't stop fighting, I'll turn this rig around right now!!"
Reading comprehension questions:
1. Do you think it's safe to "hop" onto a rig? Explain.
2. How do you think Matty feels, being left all along just because he's molting?
3. Do you think Meg is dancing on purpose, to annoy her siblings? I do. Discuss
4. Did your dad also threaten to turn the car around "right now?" Did he ever actually do it? Mine either. Yet the threat worked, every time.)

But onto Ariella. She doesn't care that she doesn't understand the words. As long as she can
A) Read the words correctly
B) Answer the questions correctly

For example, in one story, a cow kicked over a pitcher of milk. (Those darn cows!) Ariella had no idea that the word "ba'atah" meant "kick." But, using her powers of deduction, she was correctly able to answer the question, "What did the cow do?" In a strange way, we're very proud of her. Though we continue to look up words in the dictionary. In case she ever adopts a macaw.

Meanwhile, Yaakov knows and understands lots. But he refuses to impart his information to us. If you ask him a question, he screws up his face in concentration, makes up a totally nonsense word, then laughs hysterically at us.
"Yaakov, how do you say 'share?'"
[Pause.] "Savta skantooza!" (This is Ariella and Yaakov's favorite phrase.)
Maniacal laughter.

It's just not right. He should really savta skantooza his knowledge with us.


Baila said...

She's gonna go far, that one. Especially in the rig you guys buy her when she turns 17.


I just remember how daddy would test you on spelling words, and make up sentences for you using the word, with each sentence ending, "....and they never saw their parents again..." How badly did that mess you guys up? hahahahahahah! whee!

Laurie said...

Looks like your tutoring is going real well... :)

Gila Rose said...'s a surprise.

OneTiredEma said...

Crap. We *just* learned the word for "to share information." And now I forget what it is. Therefore I will not tattle on you to Dalia, because I'm sure you learned it too.

Arica said...

Can I expect to see this exact story and questions as Danya's homework next week???