Posts Tagged ‘vocabulary’

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

I hate to admit it, but I have not been the best at teaching vocabulary.  I’ve tried all kinds of methods from word lists to word walls, but I am still met with groans from kids when I say Vocabulary.  This year I’ve been using a workbook.  This goes against my whole philosophy of teaching, so please don’t tell my students.  This workbook provides an authentic text, so the words are in context.  We also work with synonyms and antonyms and always a writing piece.  But like most work with Vocabulary in the title, my students think drudgery.

It is time for a change.  I have been intrigued by Carol Varsalona’s word clouds.  I tweeted a question to her.  Turns out it was our mutual friend Holly who introduced Tagul to Carol.

This leads me to an idea I will be trying this week with my students (crossing fingers the app works in our network).  I took one of our vocabulary words from last week, essence, and typed it into Thesaurus.com.  I opened Tagul and typed in a dozen synonyms.  Then I looked for a shape that would help define the word.  I chose a water droplet because water is the essence of our bodies.  The image shares common synonyms as well as makes this vocabulary work more motivating.


In what ways are you digitizing vocabulary work?  Share your ideas on your blog and link below.



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Slice of Life Day 28.  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Slice of Life Day 28. Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Poetry Friday round-up at A Year of Reading.

Join the Poetry Friday round-up at A Year of Reading.

I signed up my morning ELA group for voting on the March Madness Poetry going on at Think, Kid, Think! The poetry rounds are open to public voting, but this year Ed DeCaria invited students to participate. I jumped in with both feet not knowing what I was getting into.

We missed the first voting round because I was dealing with getting the site unblocked from our school network. While the technology department is usually very accommodating, it took a few back and forth emails to accomplish this. The site was all ready for Monday morning’s round 2.

My students knew nothing about this, and frankly, I hadn’t prepared myself much either, so Monday was not the best day to hit them with new words like ersatz and mellifluous. For each match-up, Ed selects a random word. The author has 36 hours to write a poem with his/her given word. Some of these words were new to me, not to mention new to my students. So with the wonders of the Internet and Google, we entered each word, read the definition, discussed it, then went back to the poems. I read them aloud and asked for a show of hands. For each poem, the voters had to make a case for the one they chose. This created an impromptu discussion of technique, and I discovered that the poems I thought were the best crafted work did not always appeal to the students.

For example, they selected Karyn Linnell’s poem “Mellifluous” over Kathy Ellen Davis’s one using the word “Hiatus.”
“Despite all her welts, Mellifluous sang; this golden voice was now her own./
And to this day a mellifluous sound is one with a smooth and sweet tone.”
They enjoyed the storytelling way this poem worked and how, like some myths, it explained a word. One of my students compared it to the myth of Echo.

Later in the week, we checked the results. Once again we were discussing words and poetry. How cool is that? I asked my students to select one of the words to use in their own poem. This activity happened on “Day without your Desk” so they were strewn all over the floor with pillows and blankets, a great way to write poetry. Vannisa, 4th grade, chimed in about how she was on hiatus from her desk. She loved saying this new word. Here is her poem.

A hiatus for you
A hiatus for me
A hiatus for us

We all need breaks

Too much information
To stuff in our heads

We need a vacation
To a special destination

What’s that place called?

Oh yeah that’s right

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