our school does 4 20-minute focus lessons daily in the areas of writing, math, science, and reading. teachers are given the focus for each week, then left to their own devices on how they’re going to teach and what materials they’re using.
this week’s focus for reading is synonyms – words that have similar meanings. i put together a couple pages on my SmartBoard (interactive projector that shows the entire class what’s on the computer) talking about synonyms, asking them for their definition, then using the definition found on dictionary.com. i then had them give examples of synonyms and we were having a grand old time.
i made sure they understood that it’s easy to say something like, “Mr. Rust is happy.” but that taking it to the next level, making it interesting for our readers, you need to drop the mundane and use synonyms. i gave an alternate word for “happy” then said, “hey! let’s get on to thesaurus.com and look at all the different words we could replace happy with!”
and i did.
and some of the words made the kids scratch their heads. others made them laugh, like when i said, “if i said, ‘Mr. Rust is chipper!’ instead of our boring sentence using ‘happy,’ wouldn’t that make this sentence more exciting?”
“what does ‘chipper’ mean, Mr. Rust?” was the response.
and being the intelligent teacher i am, i said, “we’re on dictionary.com – let’s check!” and the result was this:
so i’m explaining chipper, acting the part, etc. and one of the kids says, “what does ‘sprightly’ mean?” and i begin to explain, but then, in my massive intelligence, i thought, “wait!! you’ve got dictionary.com right here!”
so i plug in “sprightly” and this is what i and the whole class sees on the SmartBoard:
OMG!! you’re GAY?
haha. i quickly moved on and thought it was over. but then at lunch a student came over and said, “Mr. Rust, someone said you said you was gay.”
and i realized: teaching on the fly is fun but potentially costly.
but i’m still chipper and sprightly.