Definitions and Domains

At Glimmer Train, a former colleague and current friend, Peter Sipe, on building our students’ vocabularies (don’t do it with a dictionary!):

Here’s another option. If you’re asked what draft means, explain that grandpa got drafted and hated his two years in the army, but that he likes draft beer because it’s fresher than bottled, and that he sealed the windows because grandma complained they were drafty. Ask why your English teacher wants you to revise and edit your drafts, and your art teacher wants you to work on your drafting skills. Then ask some more questions: how would you feel if you got drafted? Does it annoy you to have to write a second draft? Do you have trouble sleeping in a drafty bedroom? When is a draft a good thing? When is it not? (Perhaps leave the draft vs. bottled question for later.) Help that kid understand that words don’t just have definitions, they have domains.

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