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April 2018
VABBing with Mindset

Mindset Reflections -
Is Your Vocabulary Instruction Lit?

I often joke that one of the ways I realize I am getting older is that when I hear younger people use slang, I cringe. The cringe is not so much about them using slang but more about me not knowing what has been said. There is probably no greater separator of generational differences than the use of slang. Likewise being able to validate and affirm the current generation's use of slang is a great way to relate and connect with them.  Unfortunately, many of us mistakenly see slang as completely representative of what a nonstandard language is, rather than recognizing that slang is simply part of the vocabulary of any language.  In general, vocabulary or semantics is one of the six language dimensions, that comprise any linguistic entity. Slang is evident in a myriad of languages including Spanish, French, German, and even Standard English.  Slang is not to be confused with other jargons or technology talk, for example texting or legalese.

Whether we like it or not, slang, for the most part, is the language of young people.  (Keep in mind, of course, that young is relative.)  In broad terms, though, most teenagers and young adults are the primary users of slang terms, not older adults.  In this context, I consider slang to be a part of youth culture (Rings of Culture); therefore, teachers must respond to it in validating and affirming ways so that the students’ use of these words can be bridged to academic use in the context of school.  In order to do this, though, educators must see the words as positives to be expanded upon, not as negatives to be degraded or edited.   If done skillfully, teachers can capitalize on students’ use of slang as another opportunity to expand their academic vocabulary.

I recommend the activity, Academization (my made up word). In this activity, the teacher or facilitator takes slang terms that the students are using, either in writing or speaking, and gives the students academic vocabulary that is synonymous with the slang terms. The fun part of the activity for students is when they "school" the teacher on the meaning of the slang. The learning outcome for the teacher is students are given different ways to communicate the conceptual meaning of the slang, which sometimes can be sophisticated.

Here is an example of how academization works. For examples on instructional strategies to use for academication refer to Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Teaching and Learning: Strategies for all Students.



     Academic Vocabulary


 Something is amazing, fun, exciting

remarkable, entertaining, thrilling

Validating and affirming your students use of slang begins with your recognition that their use of the words is important linguistic capital in the context of youth culture.

Get jiggy with it! 

April #BeYou Focus Behavior: Concept of Time

In some cultures, time is seen conceptually as precise, meaning the beginning and end of an event or occurrence is controlled by the clock. In other cultures, time is seen as relative or the event and occurrence are controlled by the human interaction (what is going on at the moment), not the clock. Students who embrace the relativity of time can be seen as disrespectful when tardy, or viewed as lazy when not finishing assignments on time. Of course, they should be on time and finish assignments promptly. However, understanding why they may be late and not immediately assuming it is out of disrespect goes a long way, and providing opportunities for relativity gives some students a chance to be themselves.

Example: Some cultures, such as mainstream United States culture, view time as limited
and therefore place a high value on punctuality. Other cultures, such as Latinx cultures,
place a higher value on the human interactions that occur during a given time, rather
than the specific time itself, and therefore do not value punctuality as highly.

February #BeYou Focus Behavior: Conversational Patterns

January #BeYou Focus Behavior: Relational

November #BeYou Focus Behavior: Spontaneity

October #BeYou Focus Behavior: Communalism

September #BeYou Focus Behavior: Kinesthetic or Movement

August #BeYou Focus Behavior: Socio-centrism

See the skillset section of this issue for activities that validate and affirm concept of time and for when students can #BeYou. See our website for the #BeYou campaign.

April 2018 Mindset Knowledge Builder:

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VABBing with Skillset

Skillset Directions - 
#BeYou  - Concept of Time


  • Where are you on the Concept of Time continuum?  
  • Are you precise (controlled by the clock) or relative (controlled by human interaction)?

Mainstream America, and the school system in general, tends to value punctuality.  Think about when your students are late to class or late to school; Think of parents that are late to a conference, late to pick up, or late to drop off. As educators, it is important not to make assumptions, and go deficit in our thoughts, actions, tone , and responses. First, think about whether this is a person or family that operates on relative time. Then, think about why they could be late. This reflection takes only seconds and can influence a reaction that can make or break a relationship.  In addition, think about how you can validate and affirm, then build and bridge for that person or family in order for them to be successful in the school system.

Next, reflect on  your students, your colleagues, your friends…

Do they all fall in the same place on the Concept of Time continuum?  Do you codeswitch (culture switch)  your use of time based on the situation and the people involved?  More than likely you answered yes.  That is exactly what we want our students to be able to do.  We don’t want them to give up a part of who they are culturally, but we want them to be successful in many situations.  Therefore, our use of both precise and relative time in the classroom can support students in being situational appropriate in regards to Concept of Time.    

Read on for some activities that lend themselves to the use of precise and/or relative time.  Some of these activities are taken from previous VABB Perspectives Newsletters, therefore, for more detailed information regarding the activity, please see that month’s issue via the link given.

By Gina Spoo, CLR Instructional Coach


Basic:   Walk and Talk (A Turn and Talk but with walking!)

  • Precise:  Teacher sets a timer for the amount of time students will Walk and Talk.  Even more precise, the teacher assigns a specific amount of time that each person talks in the Walk and Talk.  Then the teacher signals students to transition back upon completion of the set amount of time.

  • Relative:  Students are told to use the time for the Walk and Talk as needed.  Each student does not need to talk a set amount of time.  When their discussion is compete, give options for what the students can do next. (Think individual accountability)

Advanced:  Round Robin Brainstorming PDF Directions /  Round Robin Brainstorming- March 2018 Newsletter (Skillset Section)

  • Precise:  Teacher sets a timer; Task needs to be completed in a precise amount of time

  • Relative:  Students are asked how long they think they need for the brainstorming;  In addition students are not timed, but rather given a goal for number of responses and then a next step for the group if they finish earlier than other groups.  (Think individual accountability)

Premium:  Chalk Talk /Graffiti Talk

  • Precise:  Teacher sets a timer that controls how long each student is at a particular Chalk Talk Poster.  When the timer goes off, students move to a new poster.

  • Relative:  Students are given expectations and goals for the activity, but are allowed to spend as much time at a Chalk Talk Poster as needed.  The whole task has a set amount of time, but students determine how often they move and how long they spend at each poster

Premium: Carousel Brainstorming PDF Directions / Carousel Brainstorming- March 2018 Newsletter (Skillset Section).

Responsive Reads

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