An article by Dr. Levande lists guidelines for working with gifted students in language arts. This need caught my eye:
Keep Basic Word Skills To A Minimum
I know many students slog through the typical vocabulary contract week after week. I know because I put my own students through it! However, students can get more from vocabulary and spelling study than writing the word five times, writing the definition, and using it in a sentence.
Help your students learn to explore the depth and complexity of words. Here are some ways to deepen your word studies :
Multiple Meaning Words & Homophones
Teach students about the art of wordplay using puns. My class wrote jokes about:
- bands that were banned
- vain veins
- gorillas serving as guerrillas
- and hoarse horses
Be sure to push your students beyond simple examples and encourage them to learn new meanings. Provide them with lists so they can explore and develop their own “punny” examples.
Etymology & Greek and Latin Roots
My class studied Greek and Latin word origins by developing names for spells, new Pokemon, and strange inventions. Each creation had to be constructed with at least two Greek or Latin roots, prefixes, or suffixes. Some examples included:
- Acubible – a sharp book
- Aquacrat – a person who lives in water
Young students, especially those learning English as a second language, may be unfamiliar with the wealth of idioms in English. We do weekly studies of five idioms, usually grouped to a theme.
I am fascinated by the relationship between English and other languages. Comparing vocabulary, grammar, and even writing systems can give students a new point of view about language arts. Cognates are an interesting way to find parallels across languages. Some examples (taken from Wikipedia):
- Night (English), nuit (French), nacht (German), natt (Swedish)
- shalom (Hebrew), salaam (Arabic), and selam (Amharic)
Analogies provide a great way to get gifted students thinking about word relationships and patterns (plus they’re all over the SAT!). Consider using analogies not just in language arts, but across all disciplines. Have students create analogies using concepts from:
- social studies (United States : Republic :: United Kingdom : Constitutional Monarchy)
- science (Mount Saint Helens : Lava Dome :: Mauna Kea : Shield Volcano)
- sports (Michael Jordan : Basketball :: Babe Ruth : Baseball )
Antagonyms are words that have the two opposing meanings. Definitely look at the link, but “bound” is an example since it means moving (“My train was bound for Portland”) and immobile (“I was bound and gagged.”).
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