Friday, April 06, 2007


Lovely visual-spatial learner, 14, is in the process of creating a word wall. In addition to her word roots study, she's slowly working her way through the Houghton-Mifflin word list, "100 Words Every High School Graduate Should Know," creating a vocabulary cartoon for each word, which we then post on the wall. I first encountered the word list at Mental Multivitamin.

Lovely lady fills out a word sheet that includes the word definition, the part of speech, synonyms and antonyms, a sentence using the word and a preliminary sketch of a cartoon illustrating the word meaning. The words are visible, a part of the visual landscape as she takes a short mental break from math or science or reading. The cartoons engage her visual and artistic style, and allow her to bring her sense of fun and humor into her word study. She's more comfortable using the dictionary, and more likely to look up new words she encounters in her reading. Visitors admire the wall, boosting her investment in the product she creates, and they read the definitions of words unfamiliar to them, which means she gets to hear the word used again and again.

I don't know that either lovely lady or myself, if offered a million dollars to recite, say, the correct definition of abjure (the first word on the list) could recite it flawlessly. But I'll bet she could use it in a sentence, and I'm certain that she'll understand the word in context the next time she encounters it in her reading.

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