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Rico’s Riot

My reading class is comprised of second language learners who are all 5th graders currently reading at a 3rd grade level. It is my job to bring them up to speed as quickly as possible. To do that I facilitate small group and whole group vocabulary discussions.

This week we’ve been reading a story about a Russian immigrant. At the word chuzpah all reading came to a screeching halt. Twenty hands flew into the air. As a group we reread the paragraph and talked about what was happening, how the characters felt, and what kind of words we might use to describe someone who had just done something similar.

The kids used words like brave, courageous, daring, dangerous, and even silly. I told them that the word chuzpah pretty much covered all those things, at which point Rico, excited, piped up with, “Oh! I get it! Cajones!”

There was a collective gasp. Rico froze, his mouth and eyes open wide. Briza slapped both hands over her mouth, her eyes even wider than Rico’s as she fell from her chair laughing. Except for Rico, the rest of the class followed suit.

I stared at Rico. He stared at me. Slowly, I nodded my head. I said, “I think cajones just about covers it, Kid.” Then Rico fell out laughing, too. I may have even grinned a bit myself. It’s a sure bet they are never going to forget the meaning of the word chuzpah.

Quilly is the pseudonym of Charlene L. Amsden, who lives on The Big Island in Hawaii. When she is not hanging out with Amoeba, she is likely teaching or sewing. Or she could be cooking, taking photographs, or even writing. But if she's not doing any of that, she's probably on Facebook or tinkering with her blog.


  1. Great story as usual. gotta love those kids the world over. And yes, there are certain words that may be unsavory in certain company that have a way of summing up just about anything.

    Thanks for the great laugh.


  2. Well, CB, I don’t know spanish…but I think I know that one! It must be fun to listen to those kids – out of the mouths of babes – and all that! xoxoxo

  3. What a great class you have and they are so lucky to have ou as a teacher. I wonder if you realize you are a turning point in their lives and they will always remember you?

    Sent by Dr. John, a guy who has too much time on his hands and thinks the rest of us do, too (just kidding…we love going to his link picks!).

  4. out of the mouths of babes…you can always trust a kid to sum it all up in a nut shell.
    Now, I think I’ll limp on back home as I have completed Dr. John’s marathon list for today. Not to mention most of yesterdays list as well. Tomorrow I’ll put thimbles on all fingers to protect them from keyboard blisters.

  5. LOL! Kids are often more original and entertaining than anything found on radio or tv these days. Thanks for sharing the smile!


    (Smiling because this is the last leg of Dr. Johns Marathon!)

  6. Great Story Quill, loved your reaction to Rico and his reaction in response. You must be a really wonderful teacher, your writings tell it all. I can remember with some of the teachers I had (way back when) if we had a Rico then he’d be off to the Principal’s Office for saying such a word. Some of the teachers I had were way to Strict and serious. I had some who like to have fun.

    Have been posting much lately, been working the 2:30 to 11:00 PM shift all week, so when getting home didn’t feel much like posting. I’ve been stopping by everyone’s blogs to get caught up.

    Have a Blessed Weekend

  7. To all here via Dr. John’s Blogger’s Marathon, welcome. I’m sure I’ll be seeing you soon at your place, if I haven’t been by already.

  8. Isn’t the sign of a good, effective teacher one who teaches her students something they’ll never forget? You are, indeed, then a very good and effective teacher. I already knew that, of course. 🙂

  9. Yeah, I’m sure from now on she will start her new clases out by writing, “cahones” on the board and saying, “Now who can tell me the best way to use this word.” I bet they won’t forget that!

  10. Tag! I was tagged by Cindra Jo, and now I’m tagging you…if you so choose, your mission is to post 7 songs of your choice…faves, links to videos, music, songs you hate, whatever…just something about 7 songs…then tag seven people.

  11. Hi Quilldancer, my name is Bazza and I have been sent by Dr John. I think your blog is very groovy and I promise to come back some day.

  12. Hi Quilly ~
    I recently met your neice and really enjoy her..Is it ok if I link you to? Running Dr Johns marathon…you are his link of the day.

  13. Hi QD, you are so famous. So famous in fact that I just featured you on my latest post! I think you better go check it out. Peace. Tom

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