After being Social Studies crazy yesterday, I had to wear shades today. Shades of meaning that is! I got this other crazy idea last night, while I was trying to keep my eyes open! How in the world was I going to actually teach shades of meaning besides my basic plan? Time is running out! I go back in a week and a half! I have to start getting some of this stuff completed-as in not just running around in my brain waiting for the perfect moment to jump out and be done. Because we all know that is exactly what happens once school is back in session. It runs around and around the brain until it bursts out, unchecked, and unprepared. Then we do a Tim Gun-we try and make it work till next year, when we can do it better!
Shades of meaning have been around forever, the idea that words have different intensities that can be traced back to a simple word with a simple meaning. Take “happy” for instance. When we think of happy, we probably begin to think about all the words that mean the same thing. When we read, we infer all the time using shades of meaning. Adult brains do this automatically. Student brains are still building their databases. So, the idea of shades of meaning type questions is to begin to challenge their brains to make connections to words in their databases based on the words around it and then infer what that word really means. Students have to infer the emotion or feeling from the unknown word and connect it to a basic word choice. Sounds somewhat easy, but it isn’t. This is on the moderate level of complexity when you look at Webb’s Depth of Knowledge chart. When looking at what is expected, however, we discover that kids have to determine why an author uses one shade over another or how a more instance word is used over another to impact a character trait. That’s some pretty deep thinking for a lot of kids!
The good news is this is a skill that can be impacted with practice! Round one of this practice will be to look at words and discover that they are connected in word families. This, to me, helps me connect the idea to fact families. In math we look at 3 numbers and determine how they are connected through addition and subtraction or multiplication and division. In these word families, we will look for how the simple word connects to the more intense words across a FAMILY TREE! Oh, I like that! Each generation gets stronger and more intense, yet each one has the trait of the original member! (Wait, is that science creeping in!) And words can branch off with different meanings too! Then we will examine them on a continuum. How they become stronger as they move across it. They will follow that up with some sentence work. They will finish strong with picking another word in that word family and adding it to the tree! I think this is a good place to attack this kind of work. Once we are going strong with this, then we will begin to pick words out of our reading and apply the process randomly on the continuum. But that will be a topic for later!
Now, I have some ideas that I will be working on for that family tree! Once I sort that out, I’ll post and share! Until then, here’s my finished project!
Get 8 premade pages of the continuum with the word lists to go with them. Some of the words have up to 4 meanings attached to them, so in reality, you could have 22 continuums from this pack! Some can be done as introduction lessons, cooperative learning activities, and independent work! The words included are: happy, good, hate, weird, yell, mad, cool, and bright. As I was working these out, I also realized that they are great support pages for strong words in writing. It’s like a bonus! I can’t wait to try them out myself!