Saturday, April 25, 2015

Vocabulary's deceiving appearances

So… Vocabulary, our V in the A-Z blog challenge.

Education experts are twisting themselves into knots trying to get teachers to teach content vocabulary effectively.  We’re trying, but I don’t think it’s working.

Kids nowadays don’t read much, so they don’t get the experience you and I had of coming across an unfamiliar word and trying to figure out what it means by using context clues or getting the dictionary.  I think kids’ vocabulary is shrinking as evidenced by complaints I hear regularly:

Me: “Joshua, that’s an interesting question, but not relevant to our discussion.”
Joshua: “What’s that mean?”
Me: “I mean your question doesn’t have anything to do with what we’re talking about right now.”
Kayley: “Ms. Marlowe, why do you have to use so many big words?”

Since when is “relevant” a big word?

Students hear me using words like “elaborate”, “insightful”, “rambunctious”— what they term “big words”—and assume that peppering their essays with 50 cent words will impress me and lead to stellar grades.  Admirable endeavor (do you like those words)? Except in most cases, the students don’t know how to use the words, leaving me weeping for humanity or trying not to wet myself laughing.  Allow me to give you some examples. 

As students get older, they gain acknowledgement.

The American dream reguards to numerous things.

Having brimful goals in life Bill Gates innovated a successful company.

The results of his strive and dedication not only effect his generation, it effects millions today!

I believe its better to dream big because dreams are much ambitious and awarding.

Rather you’re an optimist or pessimist, reality is a fact of living and should be applied in life.

The best way to approach this is with an unarbitrary logic.

With big dreams of walking on the moon, Neil Armstrong accomplished.

The king inducted acts that angered the Americans.

And these are just a few of the examples I’ve collected in the past 5 minutes of flipping through student work. I’d type more, but I need to change.