Friday, March 28, 2014

Vocab Lesson

I had been warned about 5th period. I immediately started in by making sure they were all in their assigned seats. Then I explained that since I can't read and talk at the same time, I knew they could not, so therefore I expected silence.

(I didn't really expect silence. I never expect silence. I figure silence is something to strive towards, depending on the assignment. But I will push for it if the circumstances warrant.)

I got the usual refrain. "We can multitask."

But eventually they settled down. Not to silence, but to a quiet enough where I figured that most could get the assignment done.

It was a middle school advanced ELD class. ELD stands for English Language Development. These are the students who aren't native English speakers, and their assignment was to read a story (in English) out of their textbook.

They should need it quieter, right?

One boy was talking to two of his neighbors. They were clearly not doing the assignment. So, I asked how what they were talking about could have anything to do with the reading assignment. (This is how I usually approach students who are off task.)

"Well... We were talking about a Chinese girl, and this story is about a Chinese family..."

Tenuous connection at best. I was about to say that when I remembered where I was.

"Have you ever heard the word 'tenuous'?" I asked.

They hadn't. At which point I explained it. A couple students asked if it was kind of like fragile. And in a minute or two, most had now been introduced to the term.

I turned back to the boy.

"Yeah, so that excuse. Tenuous at best."

At least they learned something new.

9 comments:

  1. A word that I like to break out now and then is "synecdoche." As in, "That's a cunning use of synecdoche" meaning you are using a part of something to describe a whole. When asked for an example, I say, "Think of a room full of men. When I say 'What a sausage hang!' I'm using a single part of a man to describe the whole." That example forever burns the definition of synecdoche into my audience's mind.

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  2. So many of your stories start with "I was warned about".

    Now they have a new word to describe their excuses :)

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  3. So I got introduced to a new word!

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  4. Ha! High vocab for ELD students. Good that they mostly behaved.

    I'm taking a course on English Language Learners towards the end of May. Should be interesting.

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    1. I didn't expect them to actually learn the word. It was more of an intro to it.

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  5. That made me laugh. You ought to be a full time teacher.

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  6. Good one. :) I'm an English language teacher in Australia. I have those sorts of conversations every day. I love it.

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