27 June 2007

The Best Teacher Ever Teaches Vocabulary

 From a webpage entitled "The Best Teacher Ever," here's a great idea for teaching vocabulary skills.  Instead of just writing sentences, have the students write stories incorporating their vocabulary words! 

The best teacher I ever had was my high school English teacher in the U.S. because he knew exactly how to appreciate and yes, utilize, our natural initiative and enthusiasm. We were one of those classes that if portrayed in a positive light would be called rambunctious, exuberant and smart. Our sole goal, we were teenagers after all, was to have a good time. We could turn any material into a good time, that is if teachers let us, and most did not. But our English teacher was different. A good example was our weekly vocabulary lists. He let us transform what could easily have been a very run-of-the-mill weekly vocabulary assignment in which we were to write a story incorporating as many of the new words as possible. With his blessing, we turned those vocabulary assignments into a weekly exchange of witticisms and laughter as we wrote our stories about each other, making fun of and teasing each other, inventing all kinds of tall tales, especially of the romantic order and including as well many other pieces of trivia we would otherwise have been talking about out in the quad. We read the stories aloud in class and those weekly readings became a highly attended, exciting event during which we did learn some vocabulary and laughed even more. I try to remember this when I teach my own students -- that as a teenager, laden with all the issues and concerns that any normal teenager has, what I most wanted and appreciated was learning in a light, enjoyable way. And for this I always tell myself that if my students are not being engaged, or dare I say, entertained in some way, they probably aren't learning, at least not in any meaningful way. They are teenagers and they are different. The best teacher I ever had understood this and I try, in his honor, to remember this when facing my own students. I am not always successful.

Read the entire page -- Today! -- for inspiration and encouragement.  You, too, can be  The Best Teacher Ever for one or for several of your students this year.  (I'm a realist -- I can't be "the best teacher ever" to all of my students, but I know I have been to a few.)

By the way, what have you learned from "the best teachers" in your own experience?  The school teachers of our childhood can continue to teach us even now!

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