Friday, March 18, 2022

Learning vocabulary elaborately - 3.18 #sol22 Story Challenge

A sixth-grader and I are reading aloud together, taking turns, trading paragraphs. In the chunk that goes to him, he hits the word 'elaborate.' He stretches out the syllables, working to make sense of something new: eeee laaa boooh raaaay /t/, ee-la-boh-rayt.

"You got it," I tell him. "That's the verb, the action. If you start telling me a story, and then I say, 'Please, elaborate on the last part,' what am I asking you to do?"

The student thinks for a moment, then answers, "Add more to it, give details."

"Yes," I confirm. "But in the sentence you just read," I point at the book between us, "the word is used differently, and we pronounce it differently." The phrase under my finger is, the elaborate ice sculpture. "Here, the word's an adjective, describing the noun, the ice sculpture, not a verb. The adjective gets pronounced ee-la-boh-rit."

The student says the adjective aloud himself, almost tasting it. We swap guesses about its meaning now, how it's not the same as the verb form, but how it's similar. The ice sculpture must have a lot of details, my partner decides; it's not simple or plain.

"That makes sense," I say, and we proceed to read.

I know these iterations of 'elaborate' will deserve revisiting when we next see each other, after spring break. At that point, two weeks into the future from today, they'll merit elaboration, the vocabulary equivalent of a vaccination booster.


  1. I love this idea of "the vocabulary equivalent of a vaccination booster"! Brilliant! Vocabulary works that way, doesn't it? We have to have a few "injections", let the word linger for a bit, then hear it again before it really works for us! My students and I have a 'homograph' chart in the room-I'll have to remember to suggest this one on Monday! I love how the interaction between the two of you plays out-I feel as if I'm there with you, hearing him sound the words out and make meaning of them. Great slice!

  2. I love how you elaborate on this elaborate interaction. Sounds like a smart kid and a great teacher. Happy spring break!

  3. I love this slice in time with the student, learning how words can have different meanings based on their place in the sentence. In the StoryWorks magazine by Scholastic, there is a section where the same word has 3 different meanings. I find my students really enjoy learning and discussing vocabulary!

  4. Love how you painted each small moment for us! English is so weird, like why are the verb and the adjective pronounced differently?! I loved hearing how you related the two, and the idea that you'll revisit the concept after spring break "like a booster"!

  5. This is a wonderful reminder to me about how to help students truly acquire vocabulary. I really need to find time to listen to my students read aloud... I know they benefit from this sort of elaboration (heehee) - now, how to fit it all in?

  6. A booster of vocabulary, followed by a spread of understanding