Vocabulary Collection Procedure

        Success in the English classroom (and, indeed, out of it) starts with a good vocabulary.  If people are using “big words” that you don’t understand, you just missed out on vital  information.  You lost that round.  

When you try to put a sophisticated and nuanced thought into words, you don’t have the words necessary for the job.  Which means you will be saying something other than what you actually mean.  (What we have here is a failure to communicate.)

And, needless to say, a well-stocked vocabulary is key to scoring well on the SAT.

This year we will be abandoning the concept of the vocabulary book, as a method of learning both artificial and inefficient.  But we will not be foregoing the idea of vocabulary development.  We will instead pursue a more naturalistic method.  

The first and most important place to search out new words will be in the works we encounter in class.  If you do not know key words being used by our writers, then you will doubtlessly miss key concepts being studied.  So our word-search will help us in classroom performance.  And, as these are words employed by learned and intelligent men and women, they will be continually useful down the road of life.

                                            The Five Words

1)  All vocab words should be collected from your reading in, or pertaining to, English class.  (Free reading materials are okay.)  

2)  No double-dipping!  No vocabulary or technical words from your other courses.

3)  Vocabulary words may not be taken from an on-line “Word of the Day”/ “Improve Your Vocabulary” type site.  This really defeats the whole purpose.

4)  Vocab will be accepted on official sheets only.  If you can't manage to pick one up during the week -- they're right there by the door on the way out -- you can download one here.  If you can't be bothered to do either of those things. . . it's your choice. 

5)  Each Vocab Sheet will be worth twenty (20) points. Three points each for each word, its definition, and the original context in which it appeared, and five points for the Sample Sentence.  This is because the sentence – and especially the search for it – is a very important part of the vocabulary assignment.  

6)  Do not use a form of the word you are defining to define it: i.e., “executioner – one who executes”.

7)  “Part of Speech” can be tricky.  Many words can function as more than one part of speech.  Look to see how the word functions in the original context, and designate that as its “part of speech”.

8)  If a word ends in “-ly”, it is almost always an adverb.  Really.

9)  Vocabulary is due on FRIDAY.  If you are absent, it is due on the day you return.

10)  If you fail to hand in your vocabulary sheet when it is due, you will have a one-week grace period.  That, is, you are to hand in your late vocabulary sheet on the following Friday.  Vocabulary more than one week late becomes an ineradicable  “zero”. 

11)  Any vocabulary sheet not accurately dated will incur a two point penalty (-2).  Any vocabulary sheet being turned in late must be clearly marked: “LATE”.

12)  Please be as neat as possible in filling in the form.

                                     SAMPLE SENTENCES

There are two points to this section of your vocabulary enhancement program.  First of all is that the words that you will be choosing – words that you don’t know – are real words used by real people in the real world.  To drive that point home, you are to such the internet for an example of recent usage.

Secondly, you should remember that the classroom is just a jumping-off point for education.  You learn to swim in the classroom: where you swim is up to you.  So, I would like you to spend some of your valuable education-time in pursuit of something interesting.  

1)  Go to “Google News” or “Bing News” or “Yahoo News”.  Put in your word.  Find your word in context.  [Note: You MAY NOT USE Google itself, or any search engine that scours the entire World Wide Web.  Those sites can be months or years old.  We’re looking for RECENT examples.]

2)  Don't take the first sentence that comes up.  Browse the headers, then click through to an article that interests you.  Go on to Google News page 2, or 6, or 64.  Read some of the articles.  Click on an interesting link in that article that takes you someplace else entirely.  This is your license to learn about something you want to learn about.

3)  Sample sentences taken from the dictionary WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED.

4)  All sample sentences should be full and complete.  Points will be taken off for fragments.  (I hate fragments.)

5) NO HEADLINES!  That means you’re not trying to learn, you just want to fill out the form.   And I've been reading newspapers pretty much daily for the last forty years.  I know a headline when I see one.  (If we disagree, the burden of proof is on you.)

6)  The meaning of the word in your sample sentence should match the definition you have chosen [words often have multiple meanings], which should make sense in your original context.  (If it doesn’t, points will be deducted.) 

7)  Do not submit a sentence that uses your vocab word as a proper name: i.e., “The Excelsior Biscuit Company”.  (You will receive no credit for this.)

8)  Make sure you have adequate documentation for your sentences.  Sometimes I am inclined to search out your sentence via the Google.  If I can't find it, you might want to be able to.

9) “Google News” is not your source.  Google News is an aggregator .  They don’t create the stories, they just find them for you.  Your source, say, would be

10)  When I say “Title of Article – In Quotation Marks”, I bloody well mean it.  When referring to the title on an article, one puts that title in quotation marks.