More Curricular Vocabulary

Beth Lawrence, MS, CCC-SLP

We’ve had some nice feedback on the curricular vocabulary post from a couple weeks ago.  I wanted to share another example from working with a student last week.  He was studying about Mesopotamia and had some linguistically complex definitions.  This student has an excellent ability to memorize long strings of words, so he’s been pretty successful on tests.  These students are often devastated when the format of tests changes and they must explain their answers, or recognize a definition that is worded differently.

He was asked to learn this definition for city-state:
A self-governing city that controlled surrounding lands and villages
I knew the class had done a nice job of learning the concept in a multisensory manner, so my job was to help him link the idea to the language used to represent that idea. I had my student help me segment the definition like this:
a self-governing  / city /  that controlled  / surrounding /  lands and villages
Using Post-It notes, I started by writing the key word city on a Post-It, and spent time linking city with land and villages.  I had him help me generate visuals for “land” and “villages.”   Here is a video of us using Kinesthetics to model the concept of “surrounding land and villages.”

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(It became clear that the student had not grasped the idea of “surrounding” so that is a concept I will anchor in my next session–surrounding used as an active verb versus an adjective to describe objects that happens to be in a particular location)

Back to this session…I then addressed the idea of control. In order to personalize it, we discussed and acted out who controls his house, his school, our country etc. I wanted to focus on “rules” and “money” as these concepts are most applicable to the control that a city had over a city-state.   I wrote the word controlled  on a Post-It note, drawing arrows outward toward the land and villages and placed it on the word city.

We were then ready to tackle self-governing.  I wrote city and ruler on several Post-Its and spread them around on the table explaining that these rulers and cities did not get to tell our city what to do.  Our city got to rule, or govern, themselves.

To expand his linguistic flexibility, we moved the components of the definition around:

Lands and villages were controlled by a city that governed itself

A city that was self-governed controlled the lands and villages that surrounded it

A self-governed city controlled the lands and villages that were around it

And finally, his teacher’s chosen definition: Definition of City-State