Learning About My Kids: Rules, Writing, and Breakfast

By Stephanie Rappe — It is nice to see that my kids are starting to get into the routine of our day. I’ve found that it is important to have classroom rules, but even more important to stay consistent with them. The kids don’t ever forget anything you say and if you don’t follow up on it they will remember.

Currently, the two subjects that my students have been struggling with the most are Grammar and Writing.

They understand the concepts and can verbally answer a question when asked, but when they translate their thoughts into words grammar is a huge burden. Many of my students have a hard time understanding the concept of past, present, and future tenses because in the Hmong language there is only one tense. Therefore, all of their writing is in present tense. Writing is frustrating for some students because they have a vault of great ideas, but don’t know how to translate their ideas into English.

I’ve found it helpful to show them examples of well-written papers to use as models, and to have one on one conference with each student so that they will eventually be able to write independently. It has also been helpful to do partner work because more often than not a student that is not on task does not understand the English directions I gave and needs a partner to help explain it to him or her.

One of the really amazing days that I had at my school was the day of our Family Breakfast.

We invited all 800+ student’s parents and family members from kindergarten through high school to come to our school to enjoy rice soup with their classmates and teachers. The preparation for this event was very rigorous and required all of the staff to get hands on and work late in the kitchen and cafeteria. In the Hmong culture, big celebrations are always home cooked and catered by the family that is hosting, therefore many parents came in and helped cook and set up. It was nice to see both the parents and the students comfortably talking and enjoying each other’s company, and there was plenty of food to go around! Overall, the turn-out was spectacular and the event was a huge success. Seems like our community building efforts are off to a great start!

1 Response to “Learning About My Kids: Rules, Writing, and Breakfast”

  1. 1 billhenk October 16, 2011 at 9:29 am


    Thanks for another fine post, and for pointing out how culture can play an unexpected role in education. The fact that the Hmong language has only one tense illustrates how, as teachers, we have to be prepared to adapt our instruction in light of circumstances that we either couldn’t or haven’t anticipated. .



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