I did an introductory activity today that required students to list five U.S. states. Answers included: Los Angeles, Canada, Baja California, Cuba, Chicago, and-I'm not kidding here-China. Later, during a conversation about the largest states, the same student again shouted, "China!" I made him repeat after me three times, "China is a country." Explaining the difference between cities, states, and countries was the bulk of my instruction today.
Yesterday, I spent a solid fifteen minutes explaining the basic premise of the Civil War so that they could understand a passing reference to the Confederate flag in a reading we were doing about the Civil Rights Movement... Did I mention that I teach 9th grade?