Wednesday, April 24, 2013


It turns out that fifth graders make everything into a competition. Today one of my classes was learning about the months, which sound rather similar in English and German. After we'd established that Januar = January and Mai = May, I asked a few students when their birthdays are. The first two students both had birthdays in August and high-fived over the fact. The next two students both had birthdays in September and did the same to a chorus of "nooooo!" from the August pair.

The spark of a plan.

I proceeded to ask the birthdays of every single student in the class and kept a tally. Every time one of the months with many birthdays got another tally, the students with that birthday month cheered and everyone else cursed their luck in a ten-year-old's vocabulary. With the inclusion of the teacher, September and August tied at seven birthdays each, setting off a minor celebration among the students who shared those months.

Somehow these students, despite having no control over the month of their birth, were incredibly proud of being part of the majority. The little exercise turned into a competition. It was short-lived and no one went on to bully the only May birthday in the room, but still. I now have another data point to define fifth-graders, along with squeaky voices and a tendency to ask "write we a test today?!?"

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