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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Monday Morning Check In: Collecting the Right Stuff

Lots of folks collect things. My husband collects stamps and has since he was a boy. Others collect figurines, dolls, coins, music boxes, or glassware. Elizabeth Taylor collected husbands.

I collect words. Ever since I can remember I wrote down interesting things that I read or heard. I have little notebooks all over the place. Just the other day I found one in my car. I eagerly checked to see what was in it and discovered that I had scribbled something on every single page. Quotes from podcasts I had heard, words from audio books I had listened to, and notes of random thoughts. I spend a lot of time in my car.

I like to use “big boy words[1]” with my students to encourage their curiosity about vocabulary. Last semester I put a “word of the week” on my university studio door. Then I followed the word with an expression that introduced a second big boy word. For example, I wrote:

Word of the Week:


Not to be confused with:


Or “obdurate,” not to be confused with “intractable.”

My students and I had fun coming up with these interesting pairings. It was not unusual for me to open my studio door to the hallway and discover several students standing around the posted word of the week.

This semester I am putting up different kinds of words. These are not words that students would need to look up, I expect. Instead, these are words that I want students to ponder. These are words that say much with just a few letters, and what these words say will have many different meanings for each person who considers them. The other day when I opened my studio door into the hallway, I found a student I did not know loitering outside my door. "I love reading everything on your door!" he told me. Well, thanks! This is one student who obviously "gets it."

I would like to share 100 words with you and encourage you to spend some time thinking about them yourself, about what each word means to you, and how you can show others by your actions what the words mean to you. Please feel free to chime in with your own list of words.

Love, hope, curiosity, acceptance, trust, faith, affection, belief, fascination, expectation, responsibility, perseverance, discipline, strength, encouragement, nurturing, discernment, evaluation, habit, routine, thoughtfulness, kindness, gratitude, graciousness, courage, audacity, solution, searching, fairness, acceptance, challenge, confidence, expressive, character, achievement, decisive, promise, commitment, teamwork, education, choices, presentation, impression, joy, clarity, inspiration, mentor, role model, surprise, laughter, compassion, sympathy, perspective, observation, future, invention, reinvention, teachable, receptive, learning, knowledge, wonder, respect, consideration, motivation, empower, goals, promise, endeavor, practice, success, failure, measurement, ability, skill, time management, smile, refinement, problem solving, repetition, unlimited, perfection, idealism, aspiration, dreams, concentration, focus, willpower, growth, determination, perspicacity, blessing, partnership, performance, sharing, connection, and obligation.

That is a good list for starters. Let us add more words like this to our lists.

[1] My eleven-year old student Jamey is fond of using “big boy” as an expression for anything that I would do as an adult. E.g., if I forget my personal piano music on the music rack and he has to move it out of his way, he refers to it as “big boy music.”

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