The Big Kahuna
About a year ago or so, I managed to acquire a giant Webster’s dictionary at a garage sale for a ridiculously low cost: four bucks, if I recall correctly, for a dictionary whose cover price is $150. I was able to get this wonderful dictionary at such a low cost by invoking my status as a teacher. (I tried to get it for $1, since it has a hard cover and was on the table with the hardcover books that were all for a dollar. Alas, the guy selling it didn’t want to let it go for quite such a low price.)
After getting hired this past summer, I made sure that I brought the dictionary to my classroom. As I introduced my library to my students, I showcased the various dictionaries I have, some big, some small.
And then there’s the giant dictionary, which I nicknamed “the Big Kahuna.” The students quickly took to the nickname and use it regularly. Sometimes they break it out when I use words they are unfamiliar with, such as “perseverance” or “cloudcuckooland” (both words that I have used frequently).
Other times, the Big Kahuna is broken out to check the pronunciation of a word. This happened today when we were discovering our Fruit of the Day, the Ugli fruit. The fun thing is that the pronunciation of this fruit varies according to whom you ask. The information guide accompanying the fruit says that it is pronounced “oo-glee” whereas the Big Kahuna says it is “ugh-lee.” I just chalked it up to the variations of pronunciations among English dialects. Regardless of how the word is pronounced, I am glad that my students are willing to go to an official reference source in the classroom to verify what I say to them, rather than simply accept everything at face value.
Oh, and at least some of my kids really enjoyed the Ugli fruit!
(Others were not as excited about it, but I decided not to share those picture.)