Here are some little video clips from a few of our amazing Grade Ones, spontaneously made after an activity with our Word Wall (about which I hope to add a sort of instructional post in the next week–that’s why I was filming).  We were having a brief discussion about the usefulness of the word wall and I asked the children, “What have you liked about the word investigations we did this year?”   The sound and filming quality are not great–my voice too loud, theirs too faint–so you may need to have fingers on the volume control.  Also, you’ll notice many of the children are a bit, er, droopy–it was late in a very hot day.  What impressed me though, and what I hope makes an impression on someone else out there, is the clarity and precision of these spontaneous comments from these young students.

Abdul:  “I like that we had suffixes and letter teams and digraphs and we could make…all different words up here [indicating our word wall].  And there’s lots, and how we made like a million words up here.”

Olivia:  “I liked the way that we discovered things…that I never knew before.”

Shilo:  “When we discovered homophones.  Because there’s two meanings.”

Sophie:  “I like when we had a word problem and we solved it.  Just like the word <O.K.>.    I really like that you told us the story about it.”   [See this investigation here]

Ahmed:  “I like the vowels.  Because I didn’t know that every word has a vowel.”

Madisyn:  “I liked how every day we discovered a new homophone.”

Abdul:  “I like how we discovered lots of words have stories inside.”

Making words.  Solving word problems.  Meaning.  Stories in words.  Discovering new things.    These are very little snippets.  But it feels very gratifying to have the children immediately reference these concepts, so central to the work we did with words this year.  These are among the tools I believe will carry our able scientists forward in their lifelong exploration of words–or anything else they turn their attention to.  Thinking big, indeed!

P.S.  My unplanned question was sparked by end-of-year blog posts from several other teachers I admire greatly.  Click on these links to see the remarks of older students doing similar work in Switzerland, Malaysia and Massachusetts.  Collectively, these comments form a massive testimonial to the power of engaging deeply with words.  Thank you to these teachers for their ongoing inspiration and encouragement!


One thought on “Reflections

  1. Orthography is the written representation of sense and meaning, and the way we spell words – together with the dance of the pen with which we write them – is human thought made visible as text. George Gusdorf famously wrote (in French, of course, but I’ll translate!):

    Bringing order to words is to bring order to the way we think …

    Man interposes the network of words between the world and himself, and thereby becomes the master of the world.

    These students, young though they be, have been given the gift of setting out on a real pathway to personal liberty and the affirmation of their humanity.


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