Word Study: 2020 Style

As we begin the school year, we also begin word study in our elementary classrooms. We create word walls to help our students with both high frequency words and structural analysis. I also introduce The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds at this time of year to inspire students to collect words on a class bulletin board or in our own Literacy Notebooks.

There are various reasons to add a word to our collection. I might like the sound of the word: kerfuffle and lollygag come to mind. I might like the meaning of the word: peace and solitude, perhaps. I might like a word because of a positive association: malarkey… I can’t hear this word without hearing my Dad say, “Who dealt this malarkey?”

This year I would add an extra element to my word study lessons. Consider all of the words and phrases that have become a part of our daily vernacular. Some that we hadn’t ever used before 2020: COVID, coronavirus, social distancing, flattening the curve. Some that were not used with the frequency that they are now: cohorts, masks, quarantine, pandemic, contact tracing, isolation, synchronous, asynchronous. We could go on.

This situation is a natural opportunity to talk with students about the development and evolution of language. Ask students: What other world events or circumstances may have influenced and changed the English language over time?

Be ready for a fascinating conversation!

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