Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia!

Yes...this is a real word!  This word that consists of 36 letters and 15 syllables is one of my fondest and most informative lessons that has occurred over the start of the school year.  When launching word study, I posted this word on our "Wonder Word" board.  I informed the class that this was the first word we were going to "wonder about" and study in fourth grade.  After hearing gasps from the class, watching fingers that began to count the letters, mumblings of "Is she serious?", and comments about how to pronounce this word...word study for the 2011 school year had begun!

I asked the students to share observations about the word.  I heard observations about how it had 36 letters, how they could determine the syllables if they knew how to pronounce it, and that they saw words they recognized such as hippo and pot.  Then...came observations on meaning.  Students were commenting on how they knew what a hippo and a pot were.  Another student commented on knowing the meaning of "phobia".  On and on they went....after deciding that it was not the "fear of hippos sitting in a pot", students started making observations about the connotation of the word.  One student thought it sounded like a magical spell when pronounced.

So...what does this word mean????  It is the fear of long words.  In the word's history, it was intended to exaggerate the length of the word and the idea of the size of the words being feared.  We quickly jotted this new word down in our "Wonder Word" notebooks.  From this moment on, my class has become interested in words of all kinds.  Hopefully we will began to break the "fear of long words" in our spelling and reading and find power in observing words closely!

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