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The final curtain

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Friday was our last day with Susan Palmer from the Flynn, and the last day of full classes.

It had been quite a week for me: Two days out of the classroom for PD, and two days at the end of the week, the last two full days of class, with Susan.

She had asked what would make sense for her to cover, and I still kept coming back to time. All those ways we say time with an analog clock are so confusing… Half past, quarter till, quarter to, quarter of, quarter after, quarter past…

“Quarter” is one of those words that plays a role in text complexity. Multiple meaning words are hard when you speak English as your one and only language. When deciding which words make the most sense to focus on, Isabel Beck and Margaret McKeown researched what words would give teachers the most bang for their buck and developed this three-tiered system. (You can read more about it here.) Tier 2 words are those that are used across content areas, many of which have multiple meanings. For English Learners, these can be very confusing. Think, for example, of how many ways you can use the word line. Line up. On the line. Parallel line. Waiting in line. Walking a thin line. Crossed the line. Snorting a line. (Not that I do that kind of thing…)


Susan came in with a really nice idea to bring to bring the word quarter into focus. We pretty much ended up with a table that had a piece of paper–in whole, half and quarter–a measuring cup, a dollar and a quarter. We handed the paper around and said “whole,” “half,” and “quarter.” Then we did the same with a measuring cup of water. Then we built a clock on the floor and yelled “after” and “till” unless we were standing on the 3/6/9 points of the clock, when we shrieked “quarter after,” “half past” and “quarter till.”

It is hard to explain, but it was fun.

We also counted the minutes in the clock and jumped in the air on the numbers that should be those points: 15, 30 and 45.

And then it was time for Susan to go help her partner pack for a trip, and time for us to have a little party. We sent Susan off with cards we wrote for her last week. We said our goodbyes and waved. And then we ate. And ate.

What a lovely way to end the week!


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