A Teachable Moment

Betty and Veronica2One of my students’ favorite times of the week is the visit to the school library.  It gives them a chance to get out of their chairs, roam around shelves full of books and pick two – one in English and one in French – that they can read for the next week.  I love it because it gives me a chance to see them get excited about books.

Today, one girl brought “Betty and Veronica” to the circulation desk to sign out.  I took it from her, exclaiming, “Ooooh, Betty and Veronica!”  She and the librarian both looked at me, expecting me to tell some story about how I loved to read Betty and Veronica when I was in school.  “Did you watch any of the PanAm Games?”

The girl was confused by my question.  “Ah…no…”

“Do you ever follow Canadian track?”  She shook her head again.  “Well, let me tell you about Betty and Veronica.”

Betty and Veronica1
Photo credit: Canadian Running Magazine

I proceeded to tell about Lanni Marchant and Natasha Wodak, two of Canada’s top distance runners, to a blank look.  I bragged about how well they ran at the PanAm Games and how they helped to put Canadian female runners on the international scene.  I talked about Lanni’s marathon at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and about Natasha’s 10K record.  “They train together, they are both sponsored by Asics, they race against each other…they’re frenemies.”

Her face lit up; frenemies was something she understood.  Excited by her now mild interest,  I couldn’t stop myself.  I quickly pulled up a picture of the two of them on the computer and gave her more.   “And look!  One is blond; the other is a brunette.  They’ve been nicknamed Betty and Veronica on the running scene.”  And I held up her comic book.  “See.”

Poor kid.  Speechless by my on-the-spot lesson on Canada’s female distance runners, she took her book and sat down to read it.  That was all she wanted to do.

Me?  I had a great time sneaking in a lesson on how to connect what we read to the real world or, in this case, how we connect the world to what we read.  Most of all, though, I had a great time sharing the story of the real Betty and Veronica.

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