Snacky Snake

G is a lovely student. She is emotive, responsive, and curious. Previously too shy to ask for a pencil, she has become comfortable enough to read out loud with expression and ask questions about vocabulary. I’m very pleased, because a lot of what I do is encouraging confidence in the shy ones so that they’ll speak up in regular school and get more of the help they need in the classroom.

So G’s looking at a fill-in-the-blanks exercise, and she asks, “What is snack?”

“Oh, a snack is a little bit of food. Maybe for recess, or after school. When you’re hungry.

“Snack? Eat?” She looks incredulous.

“Sure. A little bit of food. Not like lunch or dinner. Like a cookie, maybe.”

She looks utterly confused. Looks down. This is a crucial moment. When a kid doesn’t have the nerve to explain her confusion, the confusion stays. But G looks squarely back at me.

“Snack?” She makes a serpentine motion with her hands.

“Oh. I think you’re thinking of ‘snake’. Not snack.” I repeat them so she can hear the long a sound. I write them out for her.

Understanding lights her face.

“Yeah, it’s not the same. A snake is-” I do the snake motion with my hands. “A snack is some food.”

I watch her eyes carefully and I see the humour a little under the surface. See if I can bring it out. “Don’t eat a snake!”

She laughs. Success!

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