I've been working hard to improve my guided reading lessons with first graders. I still feel like they are sub-par, but they are getting better.
Recently one of the books we were reading had a girl and her grandmother in it. The girl called her grandmother Gran. I wanted to be sure the students were able to read that word because I figured it was not one they would immediately recognize. So I asked the kids what they call their grandmothers. I expected to hear things like 'grandmother', 'grandma', 'gram', 'nana' and such.
The first child says, "Eyfly". I said, "No, not how you go to visit her. What do you call her?" He repeated his answer. I tried again to clarify and finally realized that he calls her that.
The next child says, "Flower" or sometimes we call her "Mentenuga".
At that point I realized that I teach in a very diverse school. (I did already know it, just not as clearly as I did at that moment.) These students do not lead lives similar to mine at that age. I love that about my students. I just need to remember it so that I can build their background knowledge appropriately.