My challenge to you is to consider the names or labels that we use for spaces within our classroom, rules, procedures, or any aspect of your class or school and to explore the connotations that students have for those names. If that name connotes a negative image for students, how can we modify it to better reflect our intentions?
Shelly Terrell challenged us in Challenge 10 of this series to send our students on a learning mission. Two years ago, in my sixth grade World Cultures course, the students decided to create a Minecraft theme for the classroom, and we began referring to each of our objectives as missions or quests. In fact, we changed the nomenclature for nearly every aspect of class to align with the theme, and its impact was quite powerful for us. Referring to homework as a "bonus round" was not the best idea, but at least it was not "homework".
Dr. +Justin Tarte recently tweeted that instead of referring to classrooms, perhaps we could use the term "learning studios". Navasota Intermediate School's library is named La Biblioteca Fresca. If that name invokes a mental image of a quaint cafe, you are not alone. It is a wonderful and inviting space. Dr. +Joe Mazza encourages school administrators to refer to themselves as "lead learners." Many educators are creating transformational learning spaces in their classrooms and naming their "caves, campfires, and watering hole" spaces to fit classroom themes. Teachers are giving their maker spaces all kinds of creative names to represent the way those areas are intended to be utilized.
What part of our educational nomenclature irks you? How can you rename it? What could we call warm ups, anticipatory sets, focus or sponge activities? Is there a certain center, station, or rotation that students typically try to avoid? What aspects of school frighten students or raise their respective affective filters in class? I believe that thoughtful consideration of these issues and applying a new label to just one thing can have a profound impact on school culture.
We all know that words have great power. Sometimes words mean different things to different people. Everyone that has not written a book with the word "rigor" in the title knows of the incredibly negative connotations (and literal denotation) that the word holds and would never be pleased by having his or her classroom described as rigorous.
We cannot save the all fairies in our professional development sessions when we return to school in the fall, but we do have the power to promote a collaborative creative community of learners within our classroom. We can create a positive academic atmosphere beginning with the words that we choose to use.
Please share how you will #renameEDU in your class or school by double-clicking on the padlet below, and share on social media with the #EduLS hashtag. Thanks for embarking upon this challenge and allowing me to take part in this great learning series! I'm excited to hear your thoughts and probably steal all of your great ideas. #YouMatter :-D