Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Vocabulary Challenge


English class at the continuation high school. The kiddos were to read a very short excerpt from John Locke's Of the State of Nature.

The students at the continuation high school aren't the strongest students, so the passage was a challenge for them to decipher. (I did read it with them and I tried to break things down so they understood.) Part of the assignment was to circle any words they were unfamiliar with so they could look them up.

I bet you know what's coming. I was expecting it.

"I am familiar with all of those words."

I believed two or three students. But way more than two or three students claimed this. So I warned them.

"If you're going to tell me that you know all the words in the excerpt, I'm going to ask you to prove it."

I had a group of students turning in their work. None of them had defined any words. Considering the paragraphs I had in front of me, I could give each student a different word. Words like: reciprocal, promiscuously, subordination, dominion, promulgated, and absolved.

And so I did. I asked each student to define a different word. And they made good stabs at it (using the context a bit). But they weren't even close.

Eventually they took their papers back. They didn't then look for words. Of course not. But at least they couldn't claim they were done.

(Considering that I heard one student looking up "arbitrary" but pronouncing it "obituary", there were more words that would have tripped them up had I asked for definitions.)

18 comments:

  1. Have to say, I had to go look up promulgated. My sis-in-law is the pro with words. My vocabulary is definitely limited compared to her. And compared to you, it seems!

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    1. It helped that I had it in context. On its own I'd be hard pressed to spout off a definition.

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  2. Those kids ...I Know all those word, but there are times I have to look things up in a dictionary,and I had a minor in Enish.

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    1. It wasn't even like I was making them use dictionaries. They got to look up the definitions on their phones!

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  3. They might have seen the words before, but that was about it...

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  4. Come on. Why don't they want to look up words like promiscuously? That's a fun word to throw out there.

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  5. The other day I started reading a book about the Founding Fathers. Oh my gosh, the three and four syllable words, one after the other, I stumbled through in one paragraph. I read it aloud so I can hear the words. That often helps me comprehend words.

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  6. Reading your work makes me wish I was one of your students, Your dominion of students understand by now that subordination in not a code to be promiscuously practiced. Instead candid rules are promulgated in class with reciprocal ease. Confess now and sinners will be absolved. Hehe, couldn't resist.

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  7. The kids just sound lazy. They had the ability to look the words up and just didn’t feel like it

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    1. Yeah, pretty much. This is how they ended up at the continuation high school.

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  8. On Wednesday I take part in Wednesday word and at time I'm not sure what the word means or how to use it.
    I then have to google it.
    Coffee is on

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  9. Hi Liz - it's good to keep challenging ourselves ... but we need to want to - and so many today can't be bothered ... sadly. Their future depends on their ability to be able to read properly ... Cheers Hilary

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  10. vocabulary is challenging for me...
    have a great day

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  11. Ha ha like that .... "obituary"

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  12. That seems like a good excuse to do a pop quiz! But it sounds like what you did worked … sort of. *shrugs*

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    1. If I was their teacher, I totally would have given them a vocab quiz, but allowed them to use their paper on it. That would teach them to do the definitions.

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