Much of my learning this year via the collaborative inquiry I participated in was around vocabulary. Essentially, I came to the conclusion that I need to do a lot more work on explicit vocabulary teaching. And like, Jo, I have not been a huge fan of rote learning. But this year I have been thinking more about the role of background knowledge plays in students being able to generate their own ideas. They do need more exposure to the world, but they also need the words, the language to articulate their discoveries.
If this blog had themes, I’m sure one fairly major one would be ‘Changing my Mind.’ And lest readers consider me a fully paid up zealot of the ‘Knowledge Devotees,’ let me tell you that I have only recently changed my mind about teaching vocabulary.
When I began teaching at Michaela, I picked up someone else’s timetable; someone else’s classes. I was totally at the mercy of those who had begun their learning, and it was my job to learn how to teach in the ‘Michaela Way.’ I knew what I was getting myself into, and bit my tongue when one particular sheet came my way. It was a sheet listing 45 difficult words, split into three columns of 15, each with a one (or very few) word synonym.
‘What do I do with this?’ I asked.
‘They learn one column a week – meaning and spelling – and then…
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