Archive for the ‘words’ Category

How many words do you know?

Click the picture of Mr. Pirkl’s results to take a quick quiz to see how many words you know. This site also can be used to create word lists. 

Class Sixteen – Questions

Today was a day of questions.

We did some writing first thing, and will continue doing so Tuesday and Wednesday, and talked about how to write ‘more’. The strategy I focused most on was questions. What questions are your reader going to have for you after reading your piece? Have you answered the who/what/where/when/how questions? I asked them some questions about their writing and they asked me a question about mine and we went to work answering them. It went okay for the first day. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow, I’ll have them switch and ask each other questions about the writing. My hope is that they start to think about these questions as they write.

Then we transitioned into questions about reading, QAR (Question-Answer Relationships). The four levels of questions,

  1. Right There – The answer is right in the text, easy-peasy.
  2. Think and Search – The answer is in the text, but you’re going to have to hunt for it.
  3. Author and You – The answer is not in the story, you have to use what you learned from the text and what you know to answer.
  4. On Your Own – This question is related to the topic of the reading but you do not have to have read it to answer the question.

I gave out an organizer, and a sheet that provided clues within the format of the question that help to determine what type of question it is, thereby knowing what you need to do to answer it. Then we went online and took this four-question quiz that provided a text, a question and answer and asked what type of question it is. Adam zipped ahead through the quiz as I helped Franklin, who thought everything was a “Right There” question. We focused on the question being asked and where it could be found and then looked at the handouts. They both got 2/4 (but so did I when I went through it yesterday to check it out. Let me know how you do.).

Then I had questions for them about their text for “A Circle of Friends”. I asked them to check to see if the story and wording was the way they wanted and if the words matched the images. They made some good changes. Franklin became distracted though and began making up words (and definitions) that he wanted to include in the story. Adam thought they were funny but wasn’t about to let them into the story. I thought that it was funny too and was interested in the form the words were taking, most of them ended in “-ion” and the definitions made them nouns. I don’t think that he could have verbalized his reasoning but it is obvious that he’s internalized that. His definitions also sounded like definitions, there is a level of awareness in this as well.

The final questions came from me. When picking up Franklin, I was told that he wants Franklin to have homework, structure, like the other student he brings has. He said that making up words was silly and it wasn’t what he was paying the program for. I was not ready for this. The program doesn’t really talk about homework other than reading on their own, the other student that he mentioned was working on the summer reading assignment great for that student to have this time to work on it – not an option in my case, but also not required. In writing the case studies for both students (and at the end of each year of teaching) I look back and think “Boy I should have. . . ” “I could have. . . ” “I wish I . . . ” Having this interaction at the end of the day threw me. If this had happened during the school year I would have been in the mindset to handle this and defend Franklin’s progress and lauded his creativity and word sense. Even now, hours later, I am questioning not only how I handled it but the instruction that I’ve given Franklin. I know that I know what I’m doing though, I know that Franklin, in the very brief time we’ve had, has learned, his presentation of “Falling Up” is proof, the decisions that he’s making as a reader on how to present it orally are partially in result of work we’ve done together, I know I shouldn’t doubt myself but it isn’t always easy. The good thing (I think) is that we have parent/teacher conferences the next two days and I will be able to talk about all of Franklin’s strengths at that point.

I will always have those questions about how I could have done a better job on a lesson, a unit, or a conversation. This is different from doubting, I know that I do the best job that I can – but I want to be better. I think that is what good teachers do; they question everything with the intent to be better for our students. When a teacher decides that what they do is ‘good enough’ then they are no longer teachers. A teacher must continue to strive, to grow, to increase their knowledge – not just of their content but of teaching strategies and educational theory, and, most importantly, of their students – so that they avoid stagnation. Not the most appropriate simile, but teachers are like sharks – when they stop moving they die. Okay that is more dramatic than I was going for but I think it makes the point. Teachers aren’t just teachers, they must be students too.


“Pity dogs and forgive men”
Jack Kerouac

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”
Douglas Adams

“The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.”
Friedrich Nietzche

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”
Albert Einstein

“People demand freedom of speech to make up for the freedom of thought which they avoid.”
Soren Aabye Kierkegaard

“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

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“A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.”

One of my favorites from this site.

Oooooohh – Socialism!

Did I scare you?

I love language. It is a powerful tool and can be a devastating weapon, when used correctly and by one skilled in its use. If you have been listening to the Obama critics, the word they are using to stir up fear is “Socialism”. The problem is twofold: First, the definition:

Socialism:–noun 1. a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.

To me this puts power into the hands of the populus, isn’t that one of the cornerstones of the Republican party? Less government? The reasoning tactic behind this is simple, socialism conjures up images of the former Soviet Union, our arch-enemies of days gone past. The actual definition of the word and, theoretically, the practice of Socialism seems like something the R’s should be for. Am I wrong on that?

Fear is another powerful tool and weapon, often used by the weak and those with no real solid argument to make. Sad really, even sadder is the people who just blindly follow party line and don’t think about what they are saying or have any means to back up what they think or say.

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