A Punt that elicited students’ fund of knowledge

In my attempt to keep up-to-date with this, I may collapse some days, but today in Spanish was a challenge because first period I was missing a quarter of the class. They eventuallly wandered in (a new priest kept them at mass and they’re too young to just walk out to get to class on time), but by then I had changed lesson plans. The night before I had been reviewing the curriculum I’m supposed to follow and found it pretty much matched what I do. Geography is a big part of it, so I used a geography outline guide and went over it with them, deciding as I did that it would make a good project. I’m not one much for projects, but if each student took a Sp-spkng country, each class would cover almost all of them (22 & 21 class members). We’d do it in Sp, but I wanted to find out what they know in general, so I used the discussion of the guide as a way of sounding out what is in their Fund of Knowledge. You can’t expect kids to start naming animals when you ask who Curious George’s friends in the zoo are if they don’t know that zoos are for keeping animals.
Overall, they demonstrated a good awareness. Some had trouble with the fact that morals play a small role in which countries get to be big shots. In one class, my moral compass said the Germans of WW II were racists and that’s why we fought them, so I explained to her that German POWs would be taken to restaurants in town for a meal but Black American soldiers were not allowed to eat in the same restaurant, so who’s the racist? (I know, that makes me a typical Hate Amerika liberal; we are never supposed to tell our students anything “bad” about America). Those discussions, about why capitals are where they are and what the consequences of that are, what role mountains and rivers play in a country, etc. allow me to get a very good idea of what these kids know, what’s in their Fund of Knowledge.
Yesterday I had an extremely nice note from a former student. That really perked me up for the day.

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