We expanded and played with the story. Reorganized the sequence a bit (obvious below). I did not write it down that day, but I wrote the expanded version down the following day.
This story takes place ten years in the future. It happens ten years from today.
Mackenzie was walking down the mean streets of Chicago. She had now become a math teacher in a prestigious secondary school in a Chicago suburb. She also was a volleyball coach in the school. She had had a lot of success in the few years that she had been teaching already, and she was very happy and satisfied with her job and with her life.
[NOTE: This complex information grew out of asking Mackenzie what she thought she would be doing in 10 years. She said “I am going to be in business or a teacher”. I kept on commenting, observing and asking questions in the target language until we got the delicious details in the paragraph above. I said/asked questions like these: I think you might be a teacher. Why would I think that? Will you be a teacher in a good school or a bad school? Where will you live? What will you teach? Will you teach advanced math or basic math? Will you do anything else? What sport will you coach? Will you ever take your students on field trips? Where? If you are teaching advanced math, it might be nice to show your top students some places where they could work like on the stock exchange.]
Mackenzie was walking down the street in downtown Chicago because she was planning on taking a field trip to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange with the students from her advanced calculus class, but she wanted to see everything before she took 57.6 students (one boy had been very sick and he was extremely skinny) to the downtown of such a big city. Also, she felt like going shopping while she was there.
[NOTE: It is important to use numbers in every story. Otherwise, students will begin to forget them from disuse.]
While Mackenzie was walking, she saw two people sitting, a man and a woman, on the sidewalk.
They seemed like nothing more than poor vagabonds, like the hundreds of homeless people that you see in the streets of any big city in the world. They were wearing clothing that was out of style and that was really little more than dirty rags. There wasn’t much room on the sidewalk, and Mackenzie didn’t want to kick them (Mackenzie was still a very friendly and courteous person, like she had always been before during her year here in our school), so she said “Excuse me” to them with a soft voice as she passed near them.
[NOTE: Notice that while I occasionally bump up the level with expressions, much of the vocabulary is basic—that is because kids need to overlearn the most common 500 words. Those basic words need to become automatic and natural.]
When the man heard the voice, he was a little bit shocked because he was not accustomed to hearing respectful voices. Normally people didn’t even seem to see him, even when he was sitting in the middle of the sidewalk. It was as if he were invisible. All of the busy businessmen of the city tended to ignore him completely, or worse, sometimes they had said profanities to him as they passed by. The man really didn’t know how to respond to such courteous behavior that came from a stranger in the street.
The man slowly lifted his gaze and whispered a weak “Of course” to Mackenzie.
Mackenzie looked at him (the man had not seen this very often either because people almost always had avoided looking at him in the eyes when they had approached him on the sidewalk). When Mackenzie and the man looked at each other, it seemed to her that she knew recognized the dirty and poor man. All of a sudden, Mackenzie realized that she knew him. Even though he was dirty, she could see beneath his long hair and the stains in his dirty beard. She realized that the pathetic man on the sidewalk was her old classmate Mark!
Mackenzie yelled merrily “Mark? From Spanish class?” When she heard Mackenzie’s friendly voice, the woman on the sidewalk raised her head also and whispered “Mackenzie?”, and then a little bit louder, “It’s me! I am Kirsten! I was in Spanish class too!”
Kirsten stood up. She couldn’t believe that Mackenzie was standing in front of her. She was even more shocked when Mackenzie stepped forward and hugged her. It seemed like it didn’t matter to her that Kirsten was dressed in rags and stank a little bit.
They started to talk, and Kirsten explained to her that Mark didn’t tend to talk much anymore since the unfortunate chain of decisions that he had made during the last ten years.
Mackenzie wanted to know more about this sad story and also she wanted to help them, so she invited Mark and Kirsten to have a coffee with her in a little café that was nearby.
Kirsten told her that she agreed as long as Mackenzie paid for it. Mackenzie and Kirsten tenderly lifted Mark and took him to the café while he kept on muttering “Bad decisions! So many bad decisions!” to himself.
The three of them sat down in the café. Mackenzie ordered the coffees and paid for them with her platinum credit card. After drinking most of three extra large cups of caramel flavored coffee, Kirsten started to tell the tragic and disastrous story of how Mark had arrived at this point in his life when it seemed like he was going to be so successful before. Kirsten said to her:
“You probably didn’t know that Mark was a big fan of Lady Gaga during his last year in high school. Almost nobody knew it. Mark just loved the magnificent wigs that Lady Gaga wore and he insisted on sending her at least two new wigs each week in the mail. I suppose that he was hoping that she would wear one of them in a video, but she never did, and so Mark became depressed. He had no money, no wigs, no future and no hope.
“If Mark had not spent all of his time and money sending wigs to Lady Gaga during his last year in school, he would have had enough money to attend a good university. Also, if he had studied a little bit more instead of dreaming about wigs, he would have gotten better grades. If he had gotten better grades he probably would have been able to receive a scholarship to attend a university.
But he didn’t do it. Mark made bad decisions. If he had gone to the university, he probably would have had a good job. But since he had neither the money nor the good grades to go to college, Mark became a sailor and went to serve in the Navy on a ship in the Pacific Ocean. Going into the Armed Service isn’t a bad decision, but it is not what Mark really wanted to do and he became even more depressed.
But Mark was not successful there either. He couldn’t focus on his duties on the ship because he was still so depressed about the issue with Lady Gaga’s wigs. He got worse and worse jobs on the ship. If he had been able to focus a little bit more, he would have gotten a more interesting job, but at the end, the only job that he could do was to clean the dirty socks of the 13,000 sailors on the ship each week.
If he had never gone to the Navy, and if he hadn’t been so depressed, he wouldn’t have arrived at the desperate point of thinking about throwing himself overboard. And in fact, he did just that. He threw himself overboard 23.5 times in less than two months. The first 23 times the sailors rescued him, but the last time something terrible happened…
(We already know from the earlier versions of the story that Kirsten will simultaneously cause Mark harm and rescue him when he accidentally jumps headlong into her boat—that is why she has felt obligated to care for him on the streets.)
The Problem with CI
Jeffrey Sachs was asked what the difference between people in Norway and in the U.S. was. He responded that people in Norway are happy and
3 thoughts on “Bryce on AP 5”
I’d love to see the Spanish version if you have it available (in any of its mutations/versions). gracias.
It’s on the AP 4 blog.
This is fabulous on so many levels: complex language, serious and interesting topics, real life lessons, cooperatively developed with student input, etc etc.
You can tell that Bryce is a TEACHER. Thanks for sharing, Bryce!!