Monthly Archives: September 2011

Connotations and Denotations cont…

Teacher, trainer, tutor, coach, connotations and denotations and why the thesaurus can be both helpful and confusing.  Dictionary definitions help one understand the basic meaning of a read, but reading and gaining insight into how others have chosen to use a word whether in poetry or prose is the key to truly building a vocabulary-What then for the non reader?

I looked up the word “educate” on line, and discovered that in addition to the basic dictionary definition over twenty additional usages popped up.

A few examples:

  • (educate) teach or refine to be discriminative in taste or judgment; “Cultivate your musical taste”; “Train your taste buds”; “She is well schooled in poetry”
  • Education in the largest sense is any act or experience that has a formative effect on the mind, character or physical ability of an individual. ..
  • To instruct or train
    • Facts, skills and ideas that have been learned, either formally or informally

knowledge or skill obtained or developed by a learning process.

then I turned to a Thesaurus and found: teacher, trainer, tutor, coach, professor, instructor, leader, and educator…

I know that each of these terms suggests a particular role in society; I know too, that often the roles overlap and blur.  However when a student encounters a term (not necessarily the sample words above) in a surprising context, it becomes necessary to ask WHY the author may have chosen to use the word.  What is the purpose within the connotation? Strong Readers become aware of the various meanings words may have and can transfer information from one situation to another, picking up on the nuance and subtle meanings.  For the non- reader though, each new position that a word can be found in, may become problematic.  When teaching fluency and reading comprehension the first key is to move beyond the word and attempt to find a “big picture” meaning in a paragraph or passage. The second key is to note how writers generally explain their ideas in more than one fashion within a section.  I also encourage reader response journals.  For in the writing and quoting from a passage, students are also committing to memory a new idea. 


A “disciplined” mind…(connotations and denotations)..

Reading and rereading

I am going to borrow from Howard Gardner’s The Disciplined Mind (1999) and share the following ” An individual understands a concept, skills, theory. or domain of knowledge to the extent that he or she can apply it appropriately in a new situation” …” This formulation entails an acid test for understanding: posing to students a topic or theme or demonstration that they have never before encountered and determining what sense they can make of these phenomena” (pg 119) The goal simplified- genuine understanding

Many many students pass a TOEFL or equivalent exam without being able to communicate directly, or comfortably leave a message on a voice mail, or understand the lecture or text they are expected to follow. If we believe we are sharing not just the grammar and structure of the language but a new way of thinking about the world that has been formed through the use of language,and is applied within the context of the culture, then it becomes necessary to encourage experiential learning, The idea of real communication changes the relationship between the teacher and the students and insists on a collaborative approach. It is in the balance of encouraging fluency while listening for accuracy, and providing opportunity for the learners to practice ” open ended discussion activities” that the teacher is not only needed, but also where the teacher will need to be most aware and most prepared.

Two weeks into this school year…

But who is counting? Well, I am…

That first week for many is so confusing and I always enjoy recognizing when a return to routine and a little  bit of order appears to have entered; students grow visibly calmer- and their parents- sometimes the relief is tangible.

Both a mom and an educator I am privy to the early morning hustle, the rush out the door with that wonderful mix of hope and determination that students can exude.   And thankfully, I am occasionally at home at just the right time to listen to what did transpire during their day.  Only occasionally though, for as a tutor, my time in the early evenings may be spoken for and occupied with students.  I have learned the real meaning of quality time, and how to stay put as one or the other child opens up and shares knowledge of who he or she is becoming.

Third Year University and Grade Twelve- amazing- and they look at me and ask me if I feel old…Older I say, and realize yet again, that the best part about being an educator is being curious to learn more about almost everything, and to have students who are willing to share ideas that may be very different from mine and therefore definitely worth discussing.

Today was my birthday- how exciting to look forward to the rest of the year.