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.


  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.

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

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

  3. So I got introduced to a new word!

  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.

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

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

  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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