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Thursday, 13 September 2012

Can You Spell "Prestidigitation"?

Day 7, and I'm still loving my class.  Today we started watching  Akeelah and the Bee.  The kids are LOVING it!  If you are not familiar with it, it is an excellent movie for Grade Six, Seven and Eight students. Akeelah lives in a poor neighbourhood in California, and her principal forces her to take part in a Spelling Bee to help their school get some positive press.  Akeelah ends up learning all about Latin and Greek roots for words, prefixes, suffixes, and how you can spell any word if you just know it's origin and meaning.  But she also learns that there are different types of poor and to appreciate her own unique gifts.  It is a really moving story.

I like to show this movie to my students, and then I introduce them to the "Vocabulary Game".  During the week, they have to jot down any word that they think I won't know the definition of that they come across in their reading.  Every child is responsible to bring in one word, and share it with their table group.  I write each word on chart paper. Each group selects a word that they think will stump me (five groups = five words).  They tell me the word, and the sentence in which they found it.  I write the word and the sentence on chart paper, and I proceed to model how using context clues, the root, and affixes, I can determine the meaning of the word.  If they stump me with a word, the class gets five points.  If any child forgets to bring in a word I cheer that they forgot their homework because I then get one point (I can only get points if they don't bring in their word!).  Once there is a DIFFERENCE of 100 points between my score and theirs (usually that takes until April), they earn something (I usually grant them a Yahtzee Tournament).  

When we have finished the game, I circle the words that I think they can use to "enhance" their writing.  (This year I'm going to call them "Razzle Dazzle Words" -thanks Terri!)

I believe that an enriched vocabulary empowers us.  The children love this activity because all of the words come from them.  They are words they are interested in.  

Two picture books that tie in well with this activity are "The Boy Who Loved Words" and "Miss Allanius Vocabulary Disaster".  Check them out on my Bookshelf.  

So, on another note, while I am still loving my class, I'm starting to feel overwhelmed by the paper work.  I forgot how much paper work there is in September!  I find it especially difficult being in a new school, because a lot of the paper work was given to the teachers in June, and everyone keeps referring to these "packages" that I don't have.  I don't even know what all of these packages are!  We have a three page checklist to hand in to our principal by the 30th; I've still got quite a few things on that list to check off and it is making me nervous!  This weekend I will be marking Diagnostic Assessments, writing up Emergency Supply Teacher Plans, and contacting the parents of my students - all on the checklist!  I wish the Public knew how much of the weekend teachers need to devote to their work.  

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