Yesterday I did a brief, and markedly informal, review of the dictionary/thesaurus app Wordflex.  Today I am going to have some fun with it.  At the very least, I’m going to do something that I consider fun, and which you’ll probably consider extraneous, cloying, and weird.  Perhaps you won’t consider it at all as you breezily skirt by my blog to better and more entertaining reads.

As you may or may not be aware, I am an aspiring English teacher.  Admittedly, there are more lucrative positions that require less work and offer greater perks (I’m looking at you Pixar, with your dog-friendly work environment and indoor playground).  But I love books, I’m creative, and I want to be a teacher.  So that’s that.

Pixar

aka my almost dream job

While playing around with Wordflex (read: hopelessly mesmerized for hours), I put on my future teacher’s cap and thought about how students could use such an app for a vocabulary building assignment.  I’m currently reading The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, and some of his writing combined with most of my brain to come up with this:

Guiding Premises

Or “Why I Think This Thing Will Work Based On What I Already Think About Other Things”

  1. Students learn best when information is presented to them in a format they can understand
  2. The narrative format is the most easily understood format–humans are naturally story driven, not data driven
  3. Students enjoy assignments in which they can display their creativity

With this as a background, I thought it might be cool if students were to do the following:

Procedure

Or “What Things Students Should Do And In What Order They Should Do Them To Achieve Meaningful Learning Experiences”

  1. Students should have access to a blog (WordPress or Blogger), an email account, some form of free cloud storage (Google Drive), and the Wordflex app
  2. Using the “Shuffle” feature of the Wordflex app, students should tap on the first ten words they see that are unfamiliar to them
  3. After blossoming out the full semantic tree for each word, they should email themselves posters of each of the ten words
  4. Students should transfer the posters over to their cloud storage, making all accessible via links
  5. On their blogs, the students should write a short story incorporating the ten words they have just learned
  6. Every time they use one of their ten words, students should turn that word into a hyperlink that connects to its respective poster
  7. Students should visit other students’ blogs and comment on the posts they see

Below, you’ll find an example of what I’m talking about.  Pardon the ridiculous nature of the story.  Being forced to use certain words lends any story a Mad-Lib-esque quality.


Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, there lived a man who suspected he was Ringo Starr.  The man’s real name was Burt Hecuba–an antique rug deal living outside of Philadelphia.  Burt’s mildly schizophrenic condition was caused by a recurring dream he suffered.  Every night, Burt would dream he was on the Ed Sullivan show with his bandmates George, Paul, and John.  It was such a vivid dream, and the memory of it so fleeting, that when he awoke Burt would shout in frustration, “Oh, the fugacity!”

By day he went about his business as usual, selling kilims and cleaning orientals.  But as night approached, he would grow increasingly excited and apprehensive.  He harbored such fear, longing, and hope concerning his recurring dream that he often thought, “What if I am Ringo Starr dreaming he’s a rug salesman, and not the other way around?”  His curiosity reached a breaking point one day and he went to see a fortune teller, hoping that she would be able to vaticinate the discovery of his true identity.

As Burt entered her hazy chamber, he couldn’t help but notice the ornate stitching in the rugs spread upon her floor.  The fortune teller was quick to extend her hospitality, offering Burt a blintz, which he politely declined.  Pulling her crystal ball closer to her (which Burt noted was unconventionally polymorphonuclear in appearance), the fortune teller began to rock back and forth in her chair, as is she were a pandanus leaf in the wind.

“You live your life as the Snowy Plover, flitting from one branch of self to the next,” she croaked.

“Well I don’t think that’s quite fair . . .” began Burt.

“Silence,” she yelled, “do not cavil with my clairvoyance!  Who’s the one with crystal ball?  Now, I’ll only tell you this once.  You must write a palinode to a Mr. Brick-a-Brack.  Several years ago you sold him a cheap Persian rug and overcharged him for it.  He never forgave you and consequently cursed you, causing your troubled dreams.  Do this, and you’ll be free of Ringo Starr forever!”

So Burt took the fortune teller’s advice, writing to Mr. Brick-a-Brack, and immediately his dreams of Ringo Starr stopped.

Was he happy having his identity back?  Or did Burt secretly, in the deep of night, wish to be Ringo just once more?  Who’s to say?  The only thing Burt was was Burt.


So yeah. That’s about it. And in case you were wondering, a Terminological Inexactitude means This.

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