Teaching Thanksgiving on Thursday in January and Other Awkward Moments with My Pal Siri

I had a really creepy moment in the classroom last week that I feel compelled to share. I was reading chapter 9 of “Magic Tree House #27: Thanksgiving on Thursday” with my students here in South Korea  (not the best choice for January, but there were extenuating circumstances), when something utterly unexpected happened. It was Twilight Zone in nature, actually.

Those familiar with the book will know that in the story studious Jack and his utterly clueless sister Annie had traveled back to the time of the Pilgrims, enjoyed a feast with the locals, and were about to be tutored in the art of growing corn by the wise Squanto. Jack of course was apprehensive because in his words, “He feared that once they were alone, Squanto would figure out they’d never met before.”

It was after reading that last sentence aloud that Siri piped up and announced without warning or invitation, “I’m sorry to hear that. You can always talk to me, Mark.”

Everyone in the class were utterly bewildered by this intervention on the part of my ancient iPhone 5. I can only assume that Siri believed I was lamenting my own situation. Although of the dozens of novels I’ve read in that classroom I can’t for the life of me understand why she chose right then and there to voice her concern.

I screen captured it to save the moment for posterity.


If you teach this novel to students whose first language is either Japanese or Korean (Spanish will be available soon) please check out the links below to my novel studies at the The ESL Review Store.

Christmas in Camelot, an ESL/EFL Novel Study for Korean Students

Jack and Annie find themselves in Camelot for Christmas where they are sent on an important quest to save the kingdom. Will they succeed? Read Christmas in Camelot with your young learners to find out!

I know. It was getting onto Christmas time and you thought a Christmas chapter book from the Magic Tree House would be a great idea. That, or you were ordered to teach it from on high. You crack open the book and realize what you should have known before. At 16 chapters it’s longer than you expected, and the vocabulary is a bit more difficult than previous books in the series. You suddenly feel that you’re in trouble, big trouble. How on earth will you cope?

Never fear, The ESL Review is here with a novel study designed for use in the EFL classroom.  It comes with all the basic worksheets, handouts, vocabulary lists, and tests that you will need to teach the book effectively in your class. It will also free up your time so that you can work on the really special parts of your lesson that you know best.

Check it out.