We’re reading Maus right now, and per usual for the past few years, they are really digging it.

“Are we gonna read Vladek today?!” Don’t you just love hearing that kind of question?

*Aside: I had a sub a week or two ago, and part of the plan was to continue reading aloud. We do it like a play, with people playing Vladek (me), Artie (the best reader in the room, male or female), and so on right on down to “generic male” for the parts that only have a couple of lines. I heard from the kids that the sub “did a way better Vladek voice than you! He even made is voice all funny and did the accent!” Hrmm.

*Aside #2: It’s scary how many beg to be “Nazi soldier.” They all want to be loud and aggressive. One girl, who has been sort of a pain in my heinie lately, begged to do it. I caved in the hope that it would make her pay attention a bit more. Suddenly all the Nazis were from Alabama, and I had to spend 5 minutes calming the crowd after she drawled the first line.

At the beginning, before we started reading, I put the word “anthropomorphic” on the board and asked if anyone knew what it meant.

There were a couple of Mighty Morphin’ Power Ranger jokes. I got a chuckle out of that. Exactly what I would’ve done.

But nobody could come up with anything. Kids today can’t even guess with any gusto.

So I tried another tack. “What other word have you seen that uses the anthr0- part?”

Now a good percentage of them are eager to give me “anthropology.”

“Ok. Beauty. What is anthropology?”

Now this is in my first period/Homies class. The gaps in the general knowledge of this particular bunch are yawning and often very surprising, as you will soon see. Swiss cheese ain’t nearly holey enough for a metaphor for this crew.

I see one hand waving pretty confidently. The owner is a very well-traveled girl. Since there is a lot of sharing in Homie Base, I know she has been to Switzerland, Portugal, Spain and Brazil. And those are just the ones I can remember. So I figure hope that she might have a bit of savvy here. I bite.

She sits back smugly in her seat and says with authority, “A store!

sigh. And we’re not finished with her either.

Later in the period, we are about 5-6 pages in, and Vladek talks about his prospective father-in-law. He’s impressed with how rich he is. He says that Mr. Zybelberg has the “biggest hosiery factory in Poland.”

I stop and ask if anyone knows what hosiery is.

My little world traveler is all over this one. She KNOWS this one.

When you looked at the title of this post, what flashed in your mind? What did your brain put into the blank without your bidding? Admit it. You can’t really think of anything else now, can you? That flash is an example of how the seventh grade brain works all the time.