Mediocrity 2011 – Car Names for Vocabulary

This is one of those easy options for vocabulary. I thought of it when I saw the 2011 Mediocrity commercial embedded below.

Essentially, they pick one of the vocabulary words and use it as a car name. The students would draw up a one page ad1 (with relevant copy) for the car that plays off the word they choose. It would certainly be more fun with word you wouldn’t normally associate with cars. I’d make sure I posted these in the room for future use.

You wouldn’t do it all the time but it’d be one of those options I’d have for my students to pick from.

I’d make an ad for the Abstinence that shows just a frame and chastises you for wanting doors, seats, etc.


1 A video seems like overkill

Simple Definitions, Complex Thoughts

Concentration

Get them here or make up your own.

You’ve got two ways to play this game.

1. Give these to your students as warm ups at various times but with one of the words blocked out and have them decide what it should be.

2. When they’ve got the hang of guessing, they start making their own based on terms you’re studying. Should work for just about any subject and is far better than the standard “write a sentence using this term” vocabulary exercises. Don’t limit yourself (or them) to vocabulary words- think historical events, novels etc1.


1 In a way it reminds me of the “its the * meets the *” style of music/movie descriptions which would be another great way to get students thinking describing novels in interesting ways that draw connections to things they know. I swear I have something about this bookmarked in delicious somewhere.

Zombie Vocabulary

So in the theme of restrictions creating creativity and my own desire to be doing things more directly related to the classroom- I have decided to start Zombie Vocabulary1. I’ll take a few words from Merriam-Webster’s word of the day and create a zombie2 themed use of the word that I’d use with my students (if I had them).

So to start things off here’s facetious- WOD from Oct. 14th.

Facetious Zombies
Facetious Zombies

1 Why zombies? I like zombies and I like the CC zombie pictures available in flickr and saw so many I wanted to use that I needed to make a reason to use them.

2 I may switch from the zombie theme if it gets boring so other theme suggestions are welcome.

Playing with Vocabulary

I did this a while back but don’t think I ever posted about it 1.

So vocabulary work often is one the most boring things an English teacher (or anyone else) ever does. The beauty of an English class is that you have a fair degree more flexibility when dealing with vocabulary than a lot of subjects.

Here are two ways I wanted to attack words in a way that’d make them stick.

the album

Students pick a word/root/suffix/prefix and then build an album around it complete with cover art and song choices that reflect that theme. You see my Puffy Ego album above with songs like “Your You’re2 So Vain” and “I Love Me.”

It’s simple and pretty engaging for students. The association with music (and likely with music they like) should really help internalize the information.

the t-shirt

Once again, a pretty simple idea. Students take a word/root/prefix/suffix and make a t-shirt3 with it. This could be fun and you could also make posters, hats etc and get the best ones made 4

The point is just to have students think more about the words, to do something real with them and to have a little fun. Were it me, I’d have a variety of options like these and allow students to pick various options each week.


1 It’s possible I did and am bad at searching and worse at remembering

2 I’d thank the commenter for catching the typo if he/she hadn’t been such a jerk about it

3 Here’s a blank template for the t-shirt if you’re interested.

4 or maybe just put on cafepress

More Limited Communication Purity

Apparently, I really like the idea cutting down communication to it’s purest form. (that’s really pompous sounding)- I like short writing. I like the idea that you have to pack as much as possible in just a few words.

Boing Boing has come through again by finding a book dealing with 6 word memoirs by a variety of writers.

My two favorites are below.

Yes, you can edit my biography. — Jimmy Wales

Must remember: people, gadgets. That order. — Brian Lam

I might simplify the idea for students and make them obituaries- it also avoids any of their work getting sucked into the Oprah memoir furor (nothing worse than having to apologize to Oprah on national TV). Give them bonus points for working in vocabulary words etc.

Here a more academic example that I took a shot at (I listened to this Tesla podcast recently- interesting stuff).

Eccentric Serb electrifies science. Dies poor. — Nikolai Tesla

I guess it all boils down to- well, boiling things down. There’s a lot of processing and thinking that goes into trying to sum up a life or period in just a few words. In the end it’ll help everyone. Have them vote on the best sentence. Post them individually in a blog and install the star rating plugin. Make your life painless while creating a study resource and getting your students excited. If you tag them by people, time period or other relevant category it’ll double your pleasure and fun.

Rap for English

I’ve been playing around with the idea of doing a blog for my middle school focusing on using rap lyrics to get at daily oral language and to build vocabulary. I think the potential is definitely there. I’m worried about two things. Can I come up with material consistently enough to make it worthwhile for the students? Secondly, can/should I use an appropriate portion from an inappropriate song? These are middle school students so it gets a little iffy and the county I’m in is pretty conservative. That being said they are having a Souljah Boy dance party at our school and played a clip from the song today on the intercom. So maybe I could pull this off.

I’d love to use lyrics like the ones below from TI’s “You Don’t Know Me”

You gone make me bring da chevy to a real slow creep
My Partner hangin out the window, mouth fulla gold teeth
When the guns start poppin, wonder when its gonna cease
choppa hitchu on the side and create a slow leak
We can end the speculation cuz today we gone see
What’s the future of a sucka who be hatin on me
i don’t care about the feds investigation on me
I don’t care they at my shows and they waitin on me
Ima keep a flossin poppin long as Toomp is on the beat
Tell police that I ain’t stoppin Ima keep it in the streets
Contrary to yo believes, im as real as you can be

You’ve got great vocabulary in there and you could come at this two ways- have them “translate” this into formal English or write it in formal English and they have to figure out which song it’s from. I’d probably use the former more but the latter would be nice for a change every so often.

The formal version-

Sir, you are going to force me to drive by you slowly in my Chevrolet.
My friend will be leaning out of the window. You’ll notice his teeth are covered in gold.
When the firearms begin to fire, you’ll likely wonder when they are going to cease.
If a bullet impacts your lower abdomen you’ll start to bleed slowly.
There’s no need to speculate because today we will find out for sure
what will be the fate of the unfortunate individual who covets my stature.
I am not concerned about the ongoing federal investigation of my person.
I am under surveillance at my performances and they are waiting for me yet I remain unconcerned.
I will continue to seize life with a joie de vivre as long as the music continues.
Inform the police department that I will continue to be true to my self.
Contrary to your beliefs, I am a forthright and honest individual.

It’d be hard to keep it up on daily basis but even if I had to avoid violence I could probably dig up older stuff. I know I’d have to get it started with new songs though- get some momentum going.

What do you think? Doable? Worth the time/effort? or am I just amusing myself?