Friday, February 24, 2012


It is no secret that I love words.  I collect them, I savor them, and every once in a while I try to write them. The trait of word choice is a big one for me.  I love to revise my writing, trying to find just the right words to convey my message.

I also try to choose my words carefully when I speak.  Especially to children.  In my undergraduate work, one of my professors assigned us the book Teacher Talk: What it Really Means by Chick Moorman and Nancy Weber. I learned to say, "Please walk," instead of "Don't run!"  I learned to ask "What questions can I answer for you?" instead of  "Does anyone have any questions?"  Early on, I learned the power words have and that I have a choice to use them to hurt or to help my students and my colleagues.

You probably read that book or a similar one in your undergrad days.  If you are anything like me, it has been too many years since you have reread it or read a book anything like it.  I would like to suggest a book or  two that you might like to read as a refresher. 

Choice Words, by Peter H. Johnson is a thin book, less than 100 pages.  It is a great pick for a quick refresher on the importance of word choice. Here is the first paragraph of the blurb on the back of the book:
In productive classrooms, teachers don't just teach children skills: they build emotionally and relationally healthy learning communities. Teachers create intellectual environments that produce not only technically competent students, but also caring, secure, actively literate human beings.

Opening Minds: Using Language to Change Lives is Johnston's second book, recently published. From the Stenhouse website:
Sometimes a single word changes everything. In his groundbreaking book Choice Words, Peter Johnston demonstrated how the things teachers say (and don't say) have surprising consequences for the literate lives of students. Now, in Opening Minds: Using Language to Change Lives, Peter shows how the words teachers choose affect the worlds students inhabit in the classroom, and ultimately their futures. He explains how to engage children with more productive talk and to create classrooms that support not only students' intellectual development, but their development as human beings.

Great news! Stenhouse has free online previews of both books on their site.  Click here for Choice Words and here for Opening Minds.  Check them out.  Download one of the books to your e-reader or order a good, old-fashioned hard copy. You will be glad you made the choice.

1 comment:

  1. I keep seeing things about these books & will eventually get them, I know. So many books to choose from! Thanks for the further review!