The Outsiders Vocabulary Blog


I know how tedious vocabulary can be–I’m an English teacher. I have a list of 60ish vocabulary words for the novel The Outsiders (Do it for Johnny!). In previous years I have handed out the list, sorted by chapter, and asked the students to define them. I would put a selection of words on the test to ensure the kids did the work, and hoped that the words would stick. I’ll be honest with you, we would be lucky if they remembered a third of those words. I wasn’t happy about this.

This year, I decided the vocabulary needed to have more value. I asked Tom to talk through it with me, and we came up with The Outsiders Vocabulary Blog. The students had access to create posts–as opposed to simply commenting on my posts. They drew one word out of a hat and completed a word study on it. The posts were sorted by chapter and part of speech. The result is a comprehensive vocabulary database for the students, and another vocabulary tool for teachers. Two classes worked together to create this glossary. They began to see the benefit of collaborating. By breaking the list down, they were able to get more out of the work.

Along the way the students received mini lessons in citing sources, scanning a text for specific content, etymology, and web publishing. WordPress blogs have a wonderfully tired system of access, so though students could create posts, they could not publish them.

I gave the students time in class to work on this project, and I had zero unfocused students. Classrooms of students engaged with the content while seeing the benefit of community.  I go back to the blog to talk about parts of speech, or my students are pointed to the blog to discover new words to use in their writing.

6 thoughts on “The Outsiders Vocabulary Blog

  1. Jim,
    What a great use of a blog in a classroom setting! it looks as though the students have put a lot of thought into their posts. I especially like how they used pictures to get the meaning of their word across. Kudos to you and your students. Keep up the good work.

  2. Thanks Cheryl. The experience of putting it together was affirming. This was my first run at giving the students the ability to post to a blog–as opposed to commenting. Tom and I are planning to develop a mythology/storytelling unit next month that will build on the work with The Outsiders blog. Our hope is to create a student-centered unit that gives the students an opportunity to explore different archetypical stories found throughout the world. The unit will culminate with the students creating multi-media stories to be posted to a blog.

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