Entries by Lisa Lombardi

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Wonderful Words: And the answer is... Lilliputian

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If you are reading this blog, you clearly have some interest in words, their origins and their usages.  In that case, you should be following WordMasters on Twitter, as we tweet an Analogy of the Day (AOTD) from the WordMasters Challenge archives.  On Monday, we tweet an analogy that originally appeared on a fourth grade Challenge test.  The vocabulary gets progressively more difficult as we finish out the week by tweeting an analogy from an eighth grade Challenge test every Friday.  We also tweet the correct answer the following day.  To sign up for AOTD, follow us (@wordmasterslisa).  If you don’t Twitter, you can catch the AOTD and corresponding answers by visiting us on Facebook (click here).

 

Yesterday’s AOTD was:

gauche : tactful :: titanic : Lilliputian

I think this is a great example of why students need to understand literary references and how they make their way into our vocabulary.  In case you’re mystified by “Lilliputian”, it is a reference to Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726). Gulliver is washed ashore after a shipwreck and finds himself a prisoner of a race of tiny people, less than 6 inches tall, who are inhabitants of the island country of Lilliput. “Lilliputian” can be used as a noun to name a native of Lilliput, or more commonly, as an adjective meaning trivial or extremely small. 

Even if your students haven’t read Gulliver’s Travels, it is important that they recognize and understand the literary reference of “Lilliputian.”  When asked why they looked this word up on Merriam-Webster’s website (www.m-w.com), respondents answered “Crossword puzzle” and “GRE vocab word.”  (By the way, Gulliver’s Travels is available as a free download through www.planetebook.com and other websites!)


 

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From the Students: "Our teacher just learned another definition for the word scanty…"

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Here is another well-written persuasive letter from two students hoping to start a WordMasters Team in their new middle school. I wonder if you'll learn a new definition for an old word from their letter, too. Did you know a farmer uses a scuffle? Have a wonderful week!

 

Dear Mr. S.,

            We are two students from Chestwood School. We would like to inform you about our abundant requests for the WordMasters Challenge in middle school. We think that WordMasters can teach students a lot, not just in school but also out of school. We definitely think that it does! Here are some reasons why they should have the WordMasters Challenge. They extend and alter students’ vocabulary, they help students understand analogies and comparing things in real life, and they help students learn definitions of words that they may use in everyday life.

            They extend students’ vocabulary by having them study for the competition, thus making them keep the words they learn in their minds. Words like contraband and alter are used everywhere. They’re used in television, on signs, in speeches, etc. Words like scanty and lumber help you learn new definitions of the same words. Our teacher has taught WordMasters for a long time and she just learned another definition for the word scanty, and as funny as it may seem, scanty also means brief underpants. She also just learned another definition for the word scuffle. As well as being a short and confused fight, it’s also a type of hoe for construction. As you can see, WordMasters extends vocabulary.

            WordMasters helps students’ understanding of analogies and comparing things in real life. We compare things in real life in lots of ways. By people and their jobs, what people use in their jobs, etc. Example: Farmers use scythes and scuffles, just like cooks use spatulas. We have observed that our students use an abundant amount of analogies to describe anything they can think of. We also use analogies, not just in language arts, but also in science, math, social studies, and many more subjects. It’s basically classifying things in a new way. As you can see, WordMasters help students’ understand analogies and comparing things in real life.

            WordMasters help students learn definitions of words they can use in real life. It helps you learn more advanced words. All of our WordMasters are supposed to be challenging, and they are. I think we can all agree that these words are challenging and are at a seventh grade level. Also, my partner and I didn’t know lots of the definitions or meanings of the WordMasters words. We have found out many new words that we have never heard and now we have used them in our sentences many times. WordMasters help student learn definitions and meanings of words they can use in real life.

            We wouldn’t like to sound like a broken record, but WordMasters means a lot to Chestwood students. We would really appreciate it if you put our request into consideration. We know that WordMasters help students extend their vocabulary, helps students understand analogies and comparing things in real life, and they help students learn definitions of words you can use in life. We have one more supporting thought. We have used many, many WordMasters words in this letter.

 

                                    We would like you to consider our request,

                                                G. and N.


 

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