Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Old Words, New Words, Big Words, Small Words

Dashboards, gadgets, buttons...these words all had different meanings to me before I started my blog. Only a week ago if you had asked me what these words meant, I would have had different answers than I would today. I've also learned two new words this week; glog and wordle. They sound like words from a Dr. Seuss book. Timmy came home from school yesterday and was showing me his glog. Each student in his language arts class made one. Apparently a glog is where you can create interactive posters. He showed me his dashboard, page reviews, and the comments that his classmates had posted. He showed me his poster posing the question; who is the better athlete, Tim Tebow or LeBron James?
It amazes me how our language changes, how words that used to be spoken by people on a daily basis simply fade away, how old words get new meaning and how new words appear and people start speaking them as if they have been a part of their vocabulary forever. Did you know that humongous was not a word until a few years ago? I remember helping one of my kids with their homework and they wanted to use the word humongous. I knew what they were trying to say. It made sense in the story. But we weren't sure about the spelling and so we went to the dictionary. It wasn't there. It wasn't a word. Then a few years ago, I had the news on and the reporter was talking about the new words that were being added to the dictionary that year. Humongous was one of them.
A few weeks ago, I was on the computer and I ended up on a website that you can enter a list of words, any words you want. When you are finished, you hit the "go" button and it will create a mini poster of all your words. You then can play with the fonts, the color palettes, the direction of the words. It was fun. Days later, I was trying to remember the website but I had forgotten it. I couldn't find it. Then, last Thursday, I went to Molly's class to volunteer and hanging in the hallway outside her classroom were mini word posters. Molly's teacher was doing a lesson on adjectives and each student had created their own poster of adjectives. The website is  and they call these mini posters "beautiful word clouds." What a great name!

Molly writing The Lost Horse.
Now Molly is my writer. Molly has numerous journals in her room. She has binders with covers that she has decorated. She has school binders and nature binders. She has clipboards with papers attached containing lists and research notes of things she wants to learn about. She writes stories about turtles that she has labeled as non-fiction and she has stories about bunnies that are labeled fiction. Last week, she wanted to write a story about a lost horse but she wanted to write it on the computer. So I set her up in "word" showed her how to change the size and font, showed her how to right click on the red underlined words to see the correct spelling of the misspelled words and she was set. She wrote a story about a girl named Chelsea that couldn't find her horse. She finally finds her at a horse party with a hundred other horses. The last line is, "Then they danced and danced all the way home...until she lost her dog." She is planning on making it into a series; Book 2... about the lost dog.

Molly writing in one of her doodle journals.

Last night, while Timmy was working on his glog, Molly was working on wordle. She sat on the computer and made lists of words about Christmas and then made a poster. She made a list of nature words and then made a poster. She made a list of family words and then made a poster. The wheels in my teacher brain started turning. You can give a kid the word "said" and then ask them to make a list of all the words they can think of that mean the same thing. Words that would add spice and flavor to their writing. Words that would enhance a story. 

Molly working on her wordle.

Molly's Christmas Word Cloud

There is a book The Boy Who Loved Words by Roni Schotter. The boy collects words. "Selig loved everything about words-the sound of them in his ears(tintinnabulating!), the taste of them on his tongue (tantalizing!), the thought of them when they percolated in his brain (stirring!), and, most especially, the feel of them when they moved his heart (Mama!).
Selig used his collection of words to do good. He sprinkled his words and by choosing them carefully, he was able to change quarreling neighbors into harmonious neighbors.

Today I will choose my words carefully, add some spice and flavor to my day, and enhance my day with my words.


  1. Check out - just like wordle...but has more functions and easier to save and print! You can put the words into different shapes on Tagxedo also. It is lots of fun. My class did a Family Tagxedo today with over 100 words about their family for Christmas presents. If you type the word more than one time it will be bigger than the rest. I love glogs - I would love to see Timmy's final project.

  2. Thanks, Laura. We'll have to look into Tagxedo. Molly really has a lot of fun with the word lists and I was thinking they could make great presents. If you get an inexpensive frame, you have some wall art.