Monday, October 6, 2014

#SOL2014 Words Matter

You probably know this story as it has been around a long, long time. I've read it more times than I could count  Yet, last week, I saw the story through a brand new lens.  

A group of students was working on finding words that mean the same or nearly the same as key words in the story.  I referred to swamp, marshes, pond.....and then we  landed on the word UGLY woven throughout the story and making a powerful impact on the reader.

"It's not nice to call someone ugly," my student offered.  "It would hurt their feelings." 
"What word should the author have used to describe the swan-hatched-with-ducklings?" I asked.
They knew right away what word they wanted for this context.  It was clear that he was merely DIFFERENT.  

They took it upon themselves to change one word and suddenly, the story was not nearly so sad and the central message glared at all of us.  It really is OK to be different.  .

I must admit that Peter Johnston's central message (from Choice Words, Opening Minds) was ringing loudly in my head as my students took it upon themselves to change the words in the story because indeed Words Matter.  


Stacey said...

Smart kids!

This reminds me of how my daughter, ON HER OWN, changed the words in Blueberries for Sal to "big and strong" instead of "big and fat." It's like, somehow, she knew that even a bear shouldn't be referred to as fat. Strong was better.

Ramona said...

What a beautiful student to recognize that ugly was an inappropriate word.

Dana Murphy said...

Words matter, yep. Smart kids. I love that they not only noticed the negative word, but then took the extra steps to physically change the words.

Holly Mueller said...

What a great conversation and activity! I just started Choice Words - I know I should have read it a long time ago!

Tara Smith said...

Good for this student - words matter.

LInda Baie said...

Great story Anita-words matter, & it seems they just taught themselves the lesson again.

Kim said...

Makes me think of my students' response to Matthew and Tilly...they gasped when they heard the words these friends were calling each other! Words do matter--and our students, even the young ones, know this!