"What if I don't finish?"

When students don't finish an in-class assignment, I must first ask myself if I had unrealistic expectations. After fifteen years of teaching, I'm pretty good at knowing what a student should be able to do.

Then comes the task of deciding why the student didn't finish:

Did he not study adequately?
Does he have difficulty reading?
Is there a comprehension problem?

Today, I gave the students twenty fill-in-the-blank sentences over Vocabulary Unit 2.

They knew Unit 2 was due today, so they should have been studying all week, but some students had trouble.

Consider the following examples:

If you want to stay out of trouble, you should steer clear of those __________ ne'er-do-wells.

I had to explain to some students what "ne'er-do-wells" were.

I don't normally use those flowers in arrangements because I think of them as thoroughly unremarkable, yet when you place them in the blue vase they suddenly become a ________ part of a pleasing display.

For this one, I had to explain what a flower arrangement was.

I also had to explain what a pep squad was, a union negotiator, patrons, steadfast, John Hancock, ambivalent,.... and these weren't the Unit words.

So you see, it's not just that they need to study the vocabulary words, they need to have an adequate vocabulary to begin with. They aren't just learning the "official" vocabulary words, they're learning other new words.

I also teach them how to "read" the sentence: What part of speech goes in the blank? Is it a noun, verb, or adjective? Are we looking for a positive word (unflinching) or a negative word (dissolute)? We look for other context clues, such as synonyms and antonyms, and we look for signal words like and, but, however. And I ask them for a word of their own that might fill the blank and satisfy the meaning. By this time, if they haven't already come up with the word, they can find it fairly easily.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm just seeing if my forwarding works for posting comments.

8:08 AM  

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