Friday, April 13, 2012

Well, Apparently....

I am a big proponent of not talking down to your students. I've had student teachers or volunteers observing the classroom comment on how they don't think the vocabulary I'm using is something the students can understand, that I should edit myself more to come down to their level. But I beg to differ. I think it's important to have high expectations in all facets of our day-even when I correct them-instead of saying "do you have to bang your pencil on the table like that?"--I'll say "is that necessary?". Something isn't just "hard", it's "challenging". Now they know what those words mean. I think teaching vocabulary in a structured way is important, but I think you also learn it by reading it or hearing it used. We were in a meeting taking a survey online the other day and it asked about a "cadre of teachers". The other teachers asked what "cadre" meant and I said I think it's a group of people-I think of cadre of vampires or cadre of soldiers. I must have heard or read that somewhere-but it helped me figure out what the word meant.

The part I love is when they use the vocabulary seamlessly themselves. Today I had to laugh. I was at a workshop yesterday so the kiddos had a sub-you know how that just throws their whole world off-balance. When I came in today they were just talking a mile a minute, forgetting what our morning routine was. So I said (admittedly a little sarcastically) "what did I come to work at the zoo today?" One of my students looked at me with a very serious face and said "apparently you did". Hearing a 5-year old correctly use the word "apparently" is just priceless!
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  1. I adore this post and I agree with you 100%.
    I will use a harder vocabulary word and then repeat myself replacing it with the easier word. It's my hope that they will pick up on it over time.

    I had a similar situation the other day. A student asked another student why they were doing something (playing with their pencil). Then a third student chimed in from across the room saying "He's doing it for no apparent reason"-it was so funny. Possibly inappropriate but still funny.

    Randi @ Teach It With Class
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  2. First, thanks for leaving a comment on my blog--I am your newest follower! (I just figured out the purpose of the 'eyeglasses icon' in my toolbar and I'm adding you to my weekend reading list!)

    I use powerful words with my kinders on a daily basis. Personally, I think vocabulary is acquired through an immersion in words, through conversation, reading, and writing. Like you, I love to hear my students use powerful words in context. Each morning, we recite the THINK pledge: for example, the "I" stands for Inspiring. A few days ago, one of my kindergartners told another student, "That was very inspiring! Thank you for helping me!" :-)

    Have a great weekend! ReadWriteSing

  3. I don't edit my language for my students - because they aren't afraid to make a guess or ask.

    I do edit my language for coworkers - because apparently I make them feel stupid. From my AP because I used the term ampersand when explaining why a file wouldn't save. I've also had to explain to TEACHERS that AD does not mean after death.

  4. Thanks for the comments y'all!

    kherbert-yeah, I feel myself doing that too sometimes. I'll say something and people will just look at me funny. Scary, isn't it.

    Crissy-oh, I loved your blog. It's so funny to me that you can still discover new ones that you never knew about! There are just soooo many good ones out there! Thanks for sharing your story-that's a great idea about starting with a pledge. I love that they know what "inspiring" means! :)

    Randi-absolutely agree with you! If you use it they will learn it. That's a funny story too. That's when I wish our admins were in the room to hear them use those million dollar words with such fervor. Every year they tell us to do more with vocab and sometimes I wish I could just playback the students and their conversations to show what they have learned from you.

  5. I make sure that I include higher vocabulary in the classroom routine, too.

    Our classroom jobs include Botanist (not Plant Waterer) and Homework Distributor.

    I mean, why not? A lot of times, I'll scaffold in context the first few times I say a word, but honestly... I'm teaching them context clues when I don't tell them what the word means!

    Luckeyfrog's Lilypad