As a huge fan of Ron Ritchart’s “Making Thinking Visible” critical thinking framework, I was wondering if there was a way to use images to inspire word investigations. I was thinking that I would just start by showing students this image without any context and use a “See/Think/Wonder” Thinking Routine.
After completing the “See/Think/Wonder” routine, we would read and discuss the following article: https://time.com/5916286/utah-monolith-disappears/
On a subsequent lesson, the word <monolith> could be selected as a word to investigate. If students are proficient at SWI, they may break into groups to investigate a word of their choosing or the teacher may decide to do a whole-class investigation.
It is helpful to do the investigation in advance but it is really important to meet the students where they are. For example, I had previously thought that mono- was a prefix but my latest thinking is that <mon> is a base with a connecting vowel <o>. Thanks to an extremely informative video in the Real Spelling Toolbox that featured word study on <mono>, I have revised my thinking. As long as students can show evidence for their thinking, it is important to respect the journey of the learner. I have been walking this path for almost three years and every day brings a new gleaning. Allow students their own gleanings and adopt a questioning stance as they conduct their own scientific word investigations.
Another interesting reason to do a matrix before instruction is that it can clarify my own understandings. For example, I became really stuck on the analysis of <monotheist> on the <mon> matrix. I analyzed <monotheist> as mon+o+the+ist as mon+o+the/+ist->*monothist because of the suffixing pattern for replacing the single, silent <e> until I realized that the final <e> in atheist is NOT silent so that the suffix is just added. To be sure, the word <monotheist> would most likely not be brainstormed by students when asked for words in the <mon> (meaning “single”) family but I felt like it was an important renewed understanding, nevertheless.
I think that connecting images from current events and word investigations holds a lot of promise and I look forward to doing some future investigations. Feel free to contact me at email@example.com if you have any questions.
Patrick A. Mackie, The Utah Monolith: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Utah_Monolith.jpg
Do a See/Think/Wonder Activity: https://pz.harvard.edu/resources/see-think-wonder
Read this “Time” article with your students: https://time.com/5916286/utah-monolith-disappears/
Associated Press. (2020, November 30). Mysterious monolith disappears from Utah desert 10 days after it sparked international intrigue. Time. Retrieved from https://time.com/5916286/utah-monolith-disappears/We
Real Spelling Online Toolbox https://www.tbox2.online