An apt metaphor for my classroom yesterday was a busy bee hive, as my students zoomed around to different stations that we had set up to share out their invented words. Along the rim of the classroom, I had set up stations of laptops that were on our Crazy Collaborative Dictionary (see yesterday’s post). On the blackboard, I had four large pieces of chart paper, where they were writing their words and definitions. And at my desk, I had a podcast station set up for recording their words and definitions.
I was monitoring this all with the eyes on the back of my head, as I did the main recording of the podcasts with Audacity, and then quickly converted the files into MP3, and then uploaded into my Box. net sharing account.
It’s on days like this that I realize why some teachers might worry about moving such technology projects into their classrooms. There is a bit of controlled mayhem that goes on. But the kids were great, and there was lots of laughing and talking about words they were inventing. We had a long conversation in one class about how they might actually get one of their words into the real dictionary (not just our online one).
Why do we do this activity? As part of our study of how words come into our English language, I want them to understand that language is not static; it is always growing, shifting, changing. Words reflect our times. The act of invention here is a fun activity, but in the world, words are invented for things that have a new nuance, or represent a shift in thinking, or are adapted for something new. Words are not shackles that hem in our thinking. Words are part of the vibrancy of our lives.
I also gave a mini-lesson on wikis, since we use Wikispaces as the home of our dictionary work: what wikis are and how to use them and how they can foster collaborative writing. That discussion touched on Wikipedia, of course, but also Wikianswers and now, Wikileaks. My hope is that the word “wiki” now has some context for them when they hear it referenced in the news. And of course, we talked about the word “wiki” itself (Hawaiian, meaning “quick”).
When I get the 2011 Crazy Dictionary up to speed (and also the larger Crazy Dictionary featuring words from 2005-2011), I’ll share it out, but I thought it would be fun to share a folder of some of the podcasting. I really enjoy hearing them saying their words, particularly as the audio files will become a permanent part of our growing dictionary project.
Peace (in the wordy words),