Teachers at Work A column about teaching

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The Pronoun Problem

It's an age-old quandary: what to do about the lack of a gender-neutral singular third-person pronoun in English? Writing teacher Margaret Hundley Parker tackles this grammatical stumbling block, drawing on her experience in the college classroom — on both sides of the pedagogical divide. Continue reading...
Last week, Visual Thesaurus contributor and New York public school teacher Shannon Reed shared some experiences about the richness of student slang that she had encountered. Here is a counterpoint to Shannon's piece, from a new member of the VT sales staff, Elissa Seto. Before joining the VT team Elissa taught science at an urban middle school in the South Bronx. While a fan of slang, Elissa is also concerned about how student reliance on nonstandard speech may be symptomatic of what educators call the achievement gap. Continue reading...
Teachers sometimes feel like their students live in a different linguistic world. The varieties of English spoken by students these days may be jam-packed with slang and other colloquialisms largely impenetrable to their teachers, especially when there's a difference in cultural background. Though the teacher's job is to train students in the proper use of standard English, can that be balanced by an appreciation of the diversity of student slang? To answer that question, we're checking in with two teachers with experience in the New York City public school system. First up is Shannon Reed, who writes regularly for our Teachers At Work section. Continue reading...
The other day, my two teenage sons cajoled me into watching a movie they both find tremendously amusing. The film is not new. It's called Kangaroo Jack, and features Christopher Walken playing a small-time thug named Sal. Although Sal is the head of a bumbling crime family, he feels very insecure about his word knowledge, and throughout the film he is seen making a desperate attempt at self-improvement through the use of a tape-recorded vocabulary tutorial. In my favorite scene, a soothing female voice on Sal's tape player defines the word amorphous — having no shape or form, and then directs Sal to use the word in a sentence. Sal responds with this beauty: "After Joey Clams got whacked, his head was amorphous." Continue reading...
When Bob Greenman taught high school journalism and English in Brooklyn, NY, public schools he found himself turning to the New York Times for more than just the news. "I had the kids work on vocabulary from the paper," the 30-year veteran educator explains. "It's peerless for vocabulary acquisition, even better than reading classic fiction." That experience inspired Bob to put together a book called Words That Make a Difference, a compendium of vocabulary words with contextual examples from the New York Times, and another one he co-authored with his wife Carol, this time with examples from the Atlantic Monthly magazine. We spoke to Bob about his practical approach to teaching vocabulary. Continue reading...
I confess, I'm a word nerd. When I was a kid, I didn't keep a diary (grasping even at eight that the exploits of an introverted bookworm with a peaceful home life were perhaps not the stuff that formed a fascinating read), but I did keep a list of words that I liked: Burble. Murmur. Placate. Superfluous. Chaos. It's the specificity that got -- and gets -- me. My mom isn't just "kind" -- she's compassionate, altruistic and decent.

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1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 29-34 of 34 Articles