By N.J. Wise

The student in my class with quite possibly the highest I.Q. floored me today.

As we were reading a book it came up that you can tell that a book is fiction if animals talk like humans.

"Nuh-uh!" he said. "It's true. It's not fiction. Animals can talk."

Even the ADHD kids stopped picking at the rubber on the bottom of their shoes or biting the sequins off their pretty shirts and perked up their ears at this comment. They were either hopeful or doubtful or both.

All eyes were on him.

"Yeah, that's right. And...what's it called? Uh...oh yeah, uh the Italians can understand them." Some kids looked up at me for confirmation. Other kids went back to picking the rubber on their shoes.
One kid snored. High IQ blinked.

I said, "Um... Where did you get this information?"

"Animal Planet...no, no! It was Sponge Bob."


As I picture an Italian at a workbench toiling away at translating a conversation between a bird and a boy, I hit a perfect segue into the next tangent lesson of the day...How Do We Know if a Fact from a Book or TV is True?

The first answer: "You look on the Internet!"

. Then the lesson became How Do We Know if a Fact from a Book or TV or the Internet is True?

After I asked the question eight more times (and told eight more kids to sit up, to sit down, or to focus), "Research!" one said, and "Scientists!" another one said.


I believe we have two thinkers!

No more speculation that Italians communicate in animal language. Sad for the Italians and 2nd graders who so wanted it to be true.


N.J. Wise is a second-grade teacher at an elementary school in east central Indiana .