>In search of the perfect word

This week in class we are working on identifying and analyzing setting and mood. Today I showed the class several photographs and asked my students to write words or phrases that described the setting and mood of each picture.

First I showed them a picture of city in ruins, much like a scene from I Am Legend. Next, we looked at Norman Rockwell’s Thanksgiving painting. Then I showed them a photograph of hysterical Beatles fans, which took much cajoling (one of this week’s vocabulary words) for the class to be convinced that the girls wearing 60’s clothing were not lined up to see Justin Bieber.

Lastly, we looked at a picture of a spooky house and the following conversation took place:

Me: “Take a look at this picture. What words or phrases would you use to describe the mood or setting in this picture?”

Pencils instantly hit the paper, with the exception of one student who sat on the edge of her seat.

Student: “Agh. What’s that word? I can’t think of the word.”

Other students instantly jumped to her aid: “house, haunted, spooky, creepy, swamp, dangerous…” Clearly none of these words were the one she had in mind.

Student: “No. It’s like when you go camping… where you stay.”

Class: “A tent?”

Student: “No.”

Class: “A cabin?”

Student: “No.”

Me: “Does the word you are looking for have to do with actually going on a camping trip, like journey, adventure, vacation, destination… or does it have to do with the place where you would actually camp?

Student: “Yah. Like where you go camping.”

The entire class was now determined to help her out: “park, field, pasture, meadow, forest, the woods…”

Student: “Yes. That’s the word. Woods.”

Another student: “What? All that for the woods? Seriously?… You’re stupid.”

In her defense, this was the same student who forgot how to spell her own name last week.


5 responses to “>In search of the perfect word

  1. >First of all, Misscoffeeaddict, I had to Google ROTFL… and now that I’ve got that squared away… I think you have to visit the east side of Des Moines, to fully appreciate just how funny your comment truly is. Seriously, that's comedy. Now I’m ROTFL!

  2. >Attention Miss Lewis!The student sounds like she has a rare learning disability called word aphasia. Especially the part about forgetting how to spell her name. And especially the part where she's looking for simpler words. My son had similiar flags but the condition is so rare that no one recognized it for years and years. For example, he can't spell any words longer than five letters that aren't committed (and recommitted occassionally) to long term memory, like his last name. Even though he has a genius IQ (literally) other children and occassionally teachers picked on him for being "stupid" when he was using the coping skill of trying to convey his thoughts in very short words because he can only spell short words. Usually public schools can create an IEP that involves someone acting as a "scribe". Also, teachers can accomodate by simply letting the students know what the problem is, spelling words for the student, taking dictation, etc. In this day and age, where children are so familiar with diabilities like dyslexia, it takes away a lot of the stigma to tell the class "Its word aphasia, no big deal, its sort of like dyslexia but not". I can not tell you enough how relieved my son was to know that he's got a problem that can be coped with instead of just being "stupid", and the problems with other kids stopped as soon as they could identify what was going on. Good Luck.

  3. >Lucy,Thanks for reading. I know very little about word aphasia, but what you described doesn't sound too far off. We are working really hard with this student, and I will definitely take this into account. It is so hard to pin point issues students have with learning. Thank you for the fresh insight.

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