English Professor, Anne Curzan, poses questions to the audience which intend to challenge what makes a word “real” and who gets to decide. She asks: “Who writes dictionaries?”; “Are you bothered by language change?”; and “Who has the authority to make a world real?”
Curzan believes words are made “real” when a “community of speakers” use a word often and for a long time. She makes the point that these words “fill a gap” in the English language. Funny examples of words she’s seen gain traction recently:
Curzan argues dictionaries have been viewed as a book of truths not to be critiqued for too long. In fact, she points out that dictionary editors look to us to decide what words are “real.” In conclusion, she states:
“Dictionaries are a wonderful guide and resource, but there is no objective dictionary authority out there that is the final arbiter about what words mean. If a community of speakers is using a word and knows what it means, it’s real. That word might be slangy, that word might be informal, that word might be a word that you think is illogical or unnecessary, but that word that we’re using, that word is real.”
Discussing current events in the classroom was always my favourite part of the day as a student. Having the opportunity to express my opinions on world issues and hear others’ opinions was important. During other parts of my day, talking about world issues was usually reserved for the adults in the room.
Discussing events happening outside of the school made me feel like were we were part of something larger than our classroom; we were part of the larger global community.
The New York Times put together a wonderful list of 50 ways to incorporate current events into the classroom. I have included the link to all 50 suggestions below. I have also highlighted some of the suggestion in which I have had great success or am keen on trying out in the classroom.
Compare News Sources:Different papers, magazines and websites treat the news differently. You might have students compare lead stories or, via theNewseum’s daily gallery, front pages. Or, you might just pick one article about a divisive topic (politics, war, social issues) and see how different news sources have handled the subject.
Analyze Photographs to Build Visual Literacy Skills:On Mondays we ask students to look closely at an image using the three-question facilitation method created by our partners at Visual Thinking Strategies:What’s going on in this picture? What do you see that makes you say that? What more can you find? Students can participate in the activity by commenting in our weekly “What’s Going On In This Picture?” moderated conversation.
Say What’s Unsaid:Another option is assigning students toadd speech and thought bubbles(PDF) to a Times photograph to communicate something they learned by reading an article.