Thursday, October 3, 2013


Yesterday in class we talked about Prussia (or Parooozha as one of my students called it).
You won't find Prussia on either of these maps.

They were looking up international crises faced by the French government between 1789 and 1799. This led to yet another reminder that Europe looked very different two hundred years ago, and that where they have to label individual countries, I wrote USSR and Yugoslavia. This led to a discussion about Europe before World War I, so we looked at a map of Europe in 1914, which led us to question the difference between Holland and the Netherlands. I said that the history of the Netherlands probably would not be a unit of study in our class, which led to many jokes about different small countries that we could study ("I'm very excited for our study of Andorra, Miss Kelley!").

We have also spent a fair amount of time discussing sentences like "I do not like green peppers, nor do I like cucumbers." Our question is: Why do you invert the verb and the subject after nor? I have asked all the cranky grammarians in my life, and other teachers, including the Latin teacher. No one knows for sure. We have guesses, but no solid answers. My students know how to write the sentence, but we don't really know why. (Also, I get that it's a weird construction. They were practicing coordinating conjunctions.)

I like that we have these discussions in my classroom. I like that my students understand that sometimes I don't know. I like that we are learning and discovering together. I like that we ask questions. We looked up Prussia in 1790 on my computer, then moved to the more current world map on the wall to figure out where it would be today.

They won't remember which French government invaded Egypt and which was threatened by the King of Prussia, but they'll remember to ask good questions.

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