I had time today to read a story to two of my classes. It was the story of Echo and Narcissus, from Greek mythology. The kids knew what an echo was, but they had not heard of narcissism.
So I read the story. It's kind of flowery, old-fashioned language. I prefaced it with a reminder about Roman vs Greek names and how Hera was always jealous about Zeus's philandering ways. I said, "you think that all that soap opera, love triangle, Jerry Springer stuff is new? Nope, it's been around for thousands of years." They giggled, and I think their interest was piqued.
After the story, I asked them to write a definition of 'narcissism' and we practiced saying it, too. We also learned the word 'shun.' I told them that I shun milk. Then they shared things that they shun: tourists, cheese, homework, little brothers, bugs, etc.
Several kids talked about shunning eight-legged creatures, which of course led to a discussion of the official name, arachnophobia. That's another word rooted in Greek mythology. I quickly explained the story of Arachne.
Then I asked them to figure out what the word 'agoraphobia' might mean. They got the phobia=fear part, but had forgotten what an agora was. So I told them that it means marketplace. I led them to the definition of agoraphobia as fear of big, open spaces. Then I asked if they knew a word that meant the opposite of that, and many of them did, which is of course claustrophobia.
It was fun and educational and I think/hope the kids will remember today, the words and stories. I think they can see when I'm excited about a subject. And if I can relate it to their own experience (like jealousy and Jerry Springer), they can totally understand it. We all know that reading is the best way to increase vocabulary, which clearly works.
If only I had time to do this kind of thing every day, my kids would have a huge lexicon by the end of the year. Oh well, I'll do what I can. I've already taught them a few good word things, and I'll just throw in others as much as possible. I think tomorrow I'll cover the history of the word 'bankrupt.' I learned that last year in Paris and thought it was fascinating. Maybe the kids will too.
PS, for any teacher who has a unit on Greek mythology and has time for a fun, possibly wild project, put on a (scripted perhaps, to avoid the bleeps) Greek myth-themed Jerry Springer. How cool would that be? I think that any class would easily absorb characters and plots in that setting.
Ay, late again. Night, all.