Thursday, January 16, 2014

Southern Slang, Contractions, & Teachable Moments

There are moments in which I am acutely aware that I am a Mississippi teacher. Surprising though it may be, these moments sneak up on me. Teaching is teaching, and it will pose challenges no matter where you are. However, it is inevitable that regardless of your specific location, you will also experience those very region-specific moments that either make you laugh or cry, depending upon the nature of the situation.                                                                                           So there I am in one of my guided reading small groups, and they are loving this tale full of animals and trickery. At this particular moment, the kiddos are reading aloud to me, and we are really working hard on proper phrasing and expression while reading.                        
Do you see those highlighted words in the picture? You all. I kid you not; my students zipped right along, and without the slightest hesitation, each one of them read that sentence as follows: "Where are y'all going?" How's that for automaticity???

So we had to back up, look closely at our words, and throw out a little mini-lesson in contractions just for the fun of it. It seems to come naturally for them, right? It was a profound revelation of the ways in which contractions do not change the meaning of the message, but they certainly change the way it sounds. 

Somewhere in the conversation, I justified our attention to this detail with the following statement, "When you read it that way, you really sound like you are from Mississippi."

With a scrunched up face and a bit of hesitant confusion, one little boy said, "Well, Mrs. Tally, I think I really am from Mississippi…"

Touché, my dear. Touché.