Activities to Teach Students to Explore Words With New or Contested Usages

As language is constantly evolving, exploring words with new or contested usages is a crucial skill for students to develop. By doing so, they can better understand the nuances of language and communicate more effectively. Furthermore, they can critically analyze language and its impact on society.

Here are some interactive activities that can help students explore new or contested usages of words:

1. Word Walls

Create a classroom word wall where students can add and define words that they encounter with new or contested usages. Encourage students to add words they hear in everyday conversation, in the news, or on social media. Discuss the meanings and implications of the words as a group.

2. Word Maps

Have students select a word with a new or contested usage and create a word map. In the center circle, have them write the word. In the surrounding circles, have them write related words, such as synonyms, antonyms, and words with similar meanings that have different connotations. This activity helps students better understand the varied connotations and usages of a word.

3. Word Detective

Challenge students to become word detectives by finding instances of new or contested usages of words in real-world settings. For instance, have them search for examples of how the words “misinformation” and “disinformation” are used in news articles or social media posts. They can then evaluate the accuracy and impact of the language used.

4. Debates

Host a debate in the classroom where students take opposing sides on the meaning and usage of a word. For example, have one group argue that the word “woke” has positive connotations, while the other argues that the word has negative connotations. This activity promotes critical thinking and encourages students to see language from multiple perspectives.

5. Imagination Station

Ask students to imagine how a word might be used in the future or how its usage might change over time. For instance, what might the word “like” mean in 10 or 20 years? How might the word’s usage evolve due to changes in technology or social norms?

By incorporating these activities into the classroom, teachers can develop a more holistic approach to language and communication, equipping students with the tools they need to critically analyze language and engage in meaningful conversations.

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