Few activities are as delightful as learning new vocabulary.
A tower of giraffes.
A drove of pigs.
A scurry of squirrels.
A brand new picture book is always a time for celebration for me, but I have been delighting particularly in the children’s book A Tower of Giraffes by Anna Wright. Not only are her illustrations of different groups of animals captivating and whimsical, the focus on a love of words shines through each page.
I knew several of the terms that describe animals, collective nouns like flock or troop or gaggle. But so many were not only new to me, but brought a smile to my face, like: a flamboyance of flamingos, or a parliament of owls. My favorites are terms that fit the animal perfectly: a scurry of squirrels, a mischief of mice, a prickle of hedgehogs. I can’t wait to share these perfect words with the children in my life, in and out of school.
And it’s got me thinking about the power of words for description. I couldn’t help but create some of my own collective nouns for people: perhaps an ambition of politicians? An annoyance of telemarketers?
What about teachers? In my quest to create the perfect descriptive term for a collection of teachers, I turned to my colleagues, who provided some wonderful suggestions. How about honoring creativity, with an innovation or a bard of teachers? One friend wanted to highlight our profession’s star-like qualities and offered a constellation of teachers. Another wanted to focus on our impact on the future with a destiny of teachers. I’m pretty fond of an enthusiasm of teachers. Check out A Tower of Giraffes . . . and indulge in some collective noun creativity.
This week and next we look at innovative ways for bards, destinies, and constellations of teachers to dig into vocabulary learning with students. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Contributor, Choice Literacy
Ruth Shagoury is a professor emeritus at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. She blogs with her daughter Meghan Rose about children’s books at www.litforkids.com.
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Are your students getting bored with vocabulary routines? Katie Doherty invents a quick and fun game, Vocabrity, to help her middle school students learn words.
How do you describe the most challenging students in your classroom or school? Melanie Quinn details a powerful staff development activity for reframing language and perceptions:
Dana Murphy uses written conversations to help students delve into the meanings of individual words:
Seth Godin asks, “Does vocabulary matter?” His succinct explanation of why it does is great fodder for a staff development session, and the link to the free ebook on million-dollar words is a terrific bonus:
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Gretchen Schroeder looks for new ways to help high school students learn words in Vocabulary Instruction: Where to Start:
Stella Villalba explores why it is so important to teach vocabulary to English language learners in context:
In this week’s video, you can see Stella in action as she integrates vocabulary instruction with teacher modeling of nonfiction writing. This is the first video in a three-part series:
Jennifer Schwanke finds dictionaries (the real, not virtual, variety) are still a potent tool for teaching new vocabulary to children:
In an encore video, Andrea Smith leads a whole-class discussion of recording new content vocabulary in reading notebooks:
That’s all for this week!