Hello Ontario educators/bloggers/learners,

I'm thinking that we need to change our vocabulary on a few things. While reading my google reader rss feed from NECC (which sadly I could not attend), Will Richardson's post had a wee sentence which got me thinking.

Instead of saying to students, "hand in your work", we could do a small shift and say "publish your work". It's a very small semantic change, but could cause a seismic shift. Imagine what would happen if students have a chance to showcase their work, not only for a one-person audience (the teacher who is, by the way, paid to be a reader), but for a multi-person audience where quality, meaning, and persuasiveness matter in real time. Don't know why I didn't think of this earlier.

Are there other subtle vocabulary adjustments we could make?

Tags: vocabulary

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Replies to This Discussion

Wow - I love this subtle adjustment. It really makes you think of the change from passive to active learner - one who goes out to acquire the knowledge. I have to think about this one a bit more.

Excellent point. But if everything they publish is to be graded, then the end result will be the same. They will begin to equate "publish" with "submit."

That's why I have been trying to move away from traditional assessment and evaluation approaches that promote the notion that everything that's written in school is done to be evaluated.

How do you address assessment and evaluation? Have you modified any rubrics or created your own? I would love to see how this is addressed in other classrooms.

I have been trying to focus more on the process of writing, as opposed to churning out finished pieces on a regular basis. I want my students to see that blogging is a process of long-term engagement with ideas. As a result, one of the vocabulary adjustments that I've made is the shift from "assignment" to "post" or "entry."

I have also been using the word "conversation" a lot in my classroom. I use it to refer to the interactions that take place among the students and between me and my students. I find that they equate the word "feedback" with ideas that they have to accept from the teacher and then implement in their work. "Conversation," on the other hand, suggests that we are engaged in a process of discussing ideas where both sides - the teacher and the student - can make important contributions.

- Konrad
That's a great one. Who doesn't want to be published?

One small semantic change that I've seen used is: after finishing explaining a concept, instead of asking: "Does anyone have any questions?", you ask: "What questions do you have?"

The first implies a lack of understanding in the learner and puts up the barrier of possible embarrassment of asking a dumb question. Framing the question the second way implies that the student SHOULD have questions, that questioning/challenging is not only acceptable but welcomed.

I have yet to try out this shift in the classroom, but I've had it used on me as a student and it did wonders for the ensuing debate.
I love it! It puts a very positive and exciting spin on it!!
I recently created a Wiki assignment (in Wetpaint) where my students were each assigned a chapter from their textbook and asked to create 15 test questions (varying styles). They were asked to research how to create good test questions and instructed to follow Bloom's Taxonomy and to incorporate some higher order thinking questions. The second part of their assignment was to edit a (assigned) classmate's questions. Lastly they were asked to select the 10 best questions from their classmate's assignment and copy and paste them onto a page called "Paramedic Grand Rounds". Soon I will take the work and "publish" it in a handbood format with the students listed as the authors.

The students were thrilled about the assignment and can't wait to see the printed version - which I intend to distribute to my clinical and field instructors who will be able to use it to quiz the students when they are in their practicum placement.

This is why I love the idea of saying "publish your work". :)
Hi, I'm not in Ontario, but I lived and taught in Toronto for five years. I am now teaching in Cleveland, TN at one of the local high schools. This discussion is so interesting because we are also trying to look at the idea of educational vocabulary and using the same terms for everyday-actions across small learning communities. Changing the vocabulary is a must, but also, getting other teachers to follow similar ideas has to happen.



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