Read Choice Words: How Our Language Affects Children's Learning by Peter H. Johnston Online

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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.Choice Words shows how teachers accomplish this using their most powerful teaching tIn 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.Choice Words shows how teachers accomplish this using their most powerful teaching tool: language. Throughout, Peter Johnston provides examples of apparently ordinary words, phrases, and uses of language that are pivotal in the orchestration of the classroom. Grounded in a study by accomplished literacy teachers, the book demonstrates how the things we say (and don't say) have surprising consequences for what children learn and for who they become as literate people. Through language, children learn how to become strategic thinkers, not merely learning the literacy strategies. In addition, Johnston examines the complex learning that teachers produce in classrooms that is hard to name and thus is not recognized by tests, by policy-makers, by the general public, and often by teachers themselves, yet is vitally important.This book will be enlightening for any teacher who wishes to be more conscious of the many ways their language helps children acquire literacy skills and view the world, their peers, and themselves in new ways....

Title : Choice Words: How Our Language Affects Children's Learning
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781571103895
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 120 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Choice Words: How Our Language Affects Children's Learning Reviews

  • Donalyn
    2019-05-16 02:34

    Some education books add to my toolbox-- giving me management techniques, lesson ideas, or assessment tips. Other books are game-changers-- profoundly changing my view of teaching and learning. Choice Words is a paradigm stretching book about how we can change the dynamics of our classrooms and guide students toward their independence and agency. I've read Johnston's book 5 times at least and it definitely helps remind me of what matters.

  • Ken Rideout
    2019-05-13 00:53

    I really wanted to give this book 4 or 5 stars because I think the underlying idea is so important for teachers and parents. But like so many education oriented books, the whole thing can be collapsed into a short paper. Be careful about how you communicate, the words you use, the tone you set - all these "intangibles" really do define and set expectations for students' (childrens') self perception, role as a learner, relationship to teacher and each other, etc. Think of word choices as important as actions you take with your classroom/children. Contrast "you are so smart" with "you are so thoughtful" or "we have to ____" with "we get to ____". Words are constitutive as well as representational.Like many ideas in education, I wouldn't have been ready to process this early in my teaching career as the ideas are so nebulous and "fluffy" - but, now, I get it and see exemplary teachers do this intuitively all the time.

  • Ken
    2019-05-20 07:53

    A strip of a book at 83 pp. All about agency. And about what you say (and how you say it). Of course, just reading the expressions won't help if you don't mean it or if your whole approach to teaching isn't reflected in this kind of talk, so really it's a little book that would require a major adjustment. Some of the lines recommended for disputes reek a bit of PC, but whatever. Written in 2002 or so. Aimed at elementary, but applies at all levels. Nice add for any teacher trying to shift the unequal ratio of speaking and listening between teachers and students.

  • Nichole
    2019-05-20 08:01

    I actually ended up abandoning this book many, many times. My dept head bought if for us several years ago, and being the dutiful teacher I was, I wanted to read the book quickly and gather up all of it's wisdom. I tried exceptionally hard, but I found the book to be extremely dry and long winded. Recently, I tried for the third or fourth time to try and read it, determined to get through it. It's only 100 pages after all. But I dreaded reading time in class, and I was constantly frustrated by the book. I found the vocabulary to be too pretentious, without good reason. The author uses words like "agentive" and "discursive" a LOT, and in doing so, adds more confusion and less understanding. I found the idea of this book insightful, and I was able to gain some helpful phrases. However, I found the actual writing to be less than helpful.

  • Kylie
    2019-05-22 07:34

    An informative and practical book. "Choice Words" is great for the teacher who is working to inspire a struggling reader and enhance language arts instruction.

  • Jamie Tuggle
    2019-05-08 05:45

    Choice Words is full of helpful tips for teachers (or teachers in training) who value professional development and are accepting to advice on classroom management. For me, this book opened my eyes to the impact my language can have on my students. It is all too easy for us, as educators, to harp on the value of our students voice and language, yet forget about the power of our own language.

  • J-Lynn
    2019-04-28 07:54

    Johnston states the purpose of the book simply; “I focus on those things teachers say (and don’t say) whose combined effect changes the literate lives of their students.” (p.2) When discussing teachers, Johnston says “Talk is the central tool of their trade. With it they mediate children’s activity and experience, and help them make sense of learning, literacy, life, and themselves.” (p. 4)Johnston believes that speech is an active process, “Speaking is as much an action as hitting someone with a stick, or hugging them.” (p. 8) Language can be used to teach explicit skills like vocabulary acquisition or encourage meaningful social development so that students go beyond self confidence to agency which Johnston defines as “a sense that if [students] act, and act strategically, they can accomplish their goals.” (p. 29) He argues that classrooms can become “intellectual environments that produce not mere technical competence, but caring, secure, actively literate human beings.” (p. 2) With all of these concepts in mind, Johnston looks at teachers’ use of strategic and empowering vocabulary and how that language can forward social justice.Johnston advocates a change from traditional instruction. He notes that the common teaching approach is called IRE because the “teacher Initiates, student Responds, and teacher Evaluates.” (p. 53) This approach can be summarized by the following: “knowledge is composed of facts possessed by teachers, who have the authority to transmit it to children, and children know about the world only through the knowledge that is transmitted to them.” (p.54) Johnston argues that this approach is flawed; it is up to the teachers to create a “community of inquiry” that values the students’ input as much as the teachers. (p. 57) Teachers can develop this community by allowing for student choice; “Choice is central to agency. Making a choice requires one to act—preferably to deliberate and act.” (p. 36) Teachers can also encourage students to ask why questions which Johnston argues are “the essence of inquiry” and help to “develop children’s persuasion and argumentation abilities, and logical thinking.” (p. 37) But, the main approach that Johnston advocates is using powerful vocabulary and motivating language to encourage student learning; as teachers model this throughout the year, students will start to incorporate positive language into their own vocabulary. Once language is modeled and becomes “natural in the classroom…[it also becomes] part of children’s conversations.” (p. 50)Throughout the book, Johnston provides fifty-two classroom interactions that are evaluated in depth so that, by the end of the book, the reader clearly understands Johnston’s message of the power of language and the positive impact that encouraging vocabulary has on the learning environment. “Children, just like adults, learn better in a supportive environment in which they can risk trying out new strategies and concepts and stretching themselves intellectually.” (p. 65) Johnston wants teachers to always remember that “The way we interact with children and arrange for them to interact shows them what kinds of people we think they are and gives them opportunities to practice being those kinds of people.” (p. 79) Johnston’s book is a unique look at the power of words. If teachers want to create a rich classroom environment that promotes word conciousness and a love of vocabulary, the first thing that needs to be evaluated is how teachers use words in the classroom. Johnston reminds the reader that “Children in our classrooms are becoming literate. They are not simply learning the skills of literacy. They are developing personal and social identities…” (p. 22) It is not enough for us to use language to teach words, we must use our words to teach the whole child.

  • Sunday Cummins
    2019-05-28 04:36

    I've read this book three or four times. My copy of this book is filled with underlined text, notes in the margins and post-it notes. It reveals the complexity of teaching that is not made clear in most professional books or in "research-based" approaches. It reveals the power of a teacher's language to nurture students' ability to notice and name what they are doing as strategic readers/writers, to nurture their sense of identity as readers/writers, to build on their sense of agency ("I can do this and I have a repertoire of strategies to do this"), to add to their knowledge, and to their flexibility in use of this knowledge. Johnston's ideas are gleaned from his extensive research into best practices of exemplary teachers - so, in a sense, what this text says about teaching IS research-based.

  • Amy
    2019-05-27 23:41

    I carried Choice Words to a department meeting, and a young teacher asked me if I like it. I hadn't read much yet, but I said yes. He told me that he thought it was "too young" since it was written for younger grades than high school. How wrong that young teacher is. This book will enlighten and teach every educator about the importance of the language we use with our students. Every teacher, every administrator, every parent should read this book. I wish I had when my children were small. I would have talked with my children differently -- better, using Choice Words.

  • katsok
    2019-05-16 23:48

    first read 4/20/101/16/12: Interesting how perspective can change a book. I read this over a year and 1/2 ago and thought it was ok. Upon reread I think Johnston is so wise and that this is one amazing book. I'm not sure what was going on during that first read but am I glad I reread it. This is one to read again and again to remind us, as teachers, what is important. reread 8/9/13 = brilliant

  • Nikku
    2019-05-22 01:48

    I really appreciated this book for A.> Validating what I already know and treasure about "right speech" and how it relates to the education of children and B.> being a concrete way to start conversations with colleagues about how much what you say and how you say it affects the students' experience of you as the teacher and of school as a whole.

  • Julie Gardner
    2019-05-09 04:03

    Love-love-love As it turns out, the words we say reflect our perspective; the way we talk about our classrooms/students/kids shows how we see ourselves in relation to others. Am I the giver of knowledge? The doler-out of rules and allowance? The facilitator? A collaborator? Choice Words is short, but intense-a must read that combines pedagogy with classroom management.

  • Shira Reiss
    2019-05-04 04:03

    I am an educator and this book was given to all teachers to make us more aware of the words we use with our students. I read it once and then read it again writing down notes that I posted around my desk to remind me how to be aware of the words I use with my students.

  • Justin Price
    2019-05-04 07:39

    It was interesting what messages you can discover through the careful analysis of language. It really struck me how much weight phrasing something a certain way can carry. I found myself freezing mid-sentence in front of my class and thinking through how I wanted to say it.

  • Chelsea Courtois
    2019-05-24 00:34

    A lot of what's in this book seems like common sense. At the same time, Johnston makes me reconsider effective dialogue practices.

  • Kathleen
    2019-05-27 04:42

    Game-changer. For teachers and literacy educators, obvi.

  • Shana Karnes
    2019-05-15 01:51

    About half of this book was good; the other half seemed to regress in intellectual difficulty and I kept wanting more from it.

  • Cindy
    2019-05-03 06:53

    What we say to students matters. This book is a good reminder of how to speak carefully and consciously to students.

  • Dominic
    2019-04-27 05:00

    "Children grow into the intellectual life of those around them." -Lev VygotskyIf children, indeed, grow into the intellectual life of those around them, as Johnston quotes in the beginning of Choice Words, then the language we use with our students and children plays an integral role in how students come to see themselves as learners, readers, writers, and creators of ideas.I was impressed with Johnston's discussion of subtext and what is implied by a teacher's statements, direction and reprimands. Five stars for the content here.The writing style isn't the most engaging and feels straight to the point. If the book was much longer than its not-quite-100 pages, I may have taken a break to get to something new. But at 86 pages plus appendicies, it was easy to get through (and will be easy to return to for reminders of how to speak with and write to my students—and surprisingly, my son as he learns to read).

  • Heather Carreiro
    2019-05-19 03:38

    A solid synthesis of research about how teachers speak in the classroom, as well as analysis of specific word choices and questioning techniques. Most of the examples are focused on early primary / reading & pre-reading skills. As a secondary teacher, I would have liked to see more examples from higher-level courses. However, each chapter contains bold phrases which have been shown to be successful and encouraging to students. One phrase that I've taken from the book is "That's not like you," which I can use when I need to admonish a student or a class rather than generalizing their negative behaviors. By the second half, I was mostly skimming, as the ideas were repeated. I would still recommend this book to any educator as the point is that your language has power, and it encourages the audience (teachers) to be aware of that fact and see their language as powerful.

  • Alisha Fish
    2019-05-01 01:57

    I feel like Peter H. Johnston's book Choice Words is something that every educator needs to read. He addresses how teachers words can impact their student's thought processes. Also, he describes how it's important that every teacher instills agency within their students. Pushing students to do their very best is something every teacher is responsible for. In addition, he also advocates for a community within the classroom. This is a brilliant book, that describes situations that could appear in your very own classroom. It's important that teachers are aware of how they are saying things to their students. Therefore, Peter H. Johnston's book makes teachers aware of the appropriate way to behave around students. Everyone should pick up a copy and read! :)

  • Christy
    2019-04-27 03:57

    Fantastic ideas and explanations. Difficult for me to read more than a couple pages at a time.

  • Shannon
    2019-04-29 04:49

    It's way too many words, explaining common sense communication, for a veteran teacher. If you are new to teaching, it is a great resource.

  • Ivy Sitkoski
    2019-05-25 00:35

    This is a phenomenal book that I wish I had read years ago. I'm going to type up all the ideas I highlighted and try them a couple at a time.

  • Daniel S
    2019-05-18 04:50

    “Although language operates within relationships, language practices also influence relationships among people and, consequently, the ways they think about themselves and each other. Language even structures our perception.“ [p.9]“Through our noticing and naming language, children learn the significant features of the world, themselves, and others. These understandings influence how they treat each other and their environment.“ [p.20]“The language we choose in our interactions with children influences the way they frame these events, and the ways the events influence their developing sense of agency.“ [p.34]“Asking why children do or say the things they do helps them develop the consciousness and hence ownership of their choices. It brings to consciousness the feelings, intentions, relationships, motives, logic, values, and plans that live beneath action and are the hidden levers of narrative.“ [p.37]“A systemic attempt to insist that students take the intentionality and political nature of authorship as a given. Once this has been established, it becomes possible for children to read against the author's intentions. It becomes possible, and more likely, for them to read critically.“ [p.38]“The unspoken assertion that trying, struggling, noticing, and creating are normal, expected things to do.“ [p.38]“When a learner has built a narrative around his unsuccessful experiences and literacy that puts him in a passive role, there is no responsibility for failure.“ [p.38]“It seems that the less compartmentalized we make children's learning lives, the more likely they are able to transfer their strategic problem-solving to other situations. These children were also flexible in the ways they apply strategies to solve a given problem.“ [p.44]“The more we help children build a sense of themselves as inquiry where's and problem-solvers, the less they see boundaries between domains of inquiry, the more they are likely to transfer their learning into the world beyond school ... inquiring individuals who are part of a diverse community that inquires, was members, figure active participation and diversity of perspective, contribute to each other's intellectual growth.“ [p.52]“When we do into the students questions, we seize the authority in a way that position students again in the last powerful position and traps than a name monologic discourse.“ [p.56]Understanding ourselves Intel's understanding others and how we are alike and not alike. This requires building an expansive social imagination so that we can readily see others and ourselves and ourselves and others. In the long run, the more we are able to orchestrate interactions in ways that allow us to think beyond ourselves and through each other, the more we evolve as a society and as individuals.“ [p.67] “Intermental developmental zone... Is where the collective intellect in which a student is participating manages to accomplish things at the solitary intellect cannot, and in the process and over time, makes it possible for the individual intellect to accomplish the same complexity thought... It is a process in which mutual participation produces development without the associated asymmetrical positioning.“ [p.69]“Tolerance is about resisting in assumed individual tendency to judge different negatively, it is often simply a part of indifference. By contrast, his classroom conversation assumes that difference is a valuable resource for individual development.“ [p.72]“The messages we convey about noticing, identity, agency, and he epistemology have to be consistent conversational threads.“ [p.77]“The way we interact with children and arrange them to interact shows them what kinds of people we think they are and gives them opportunities to practice being those kinds of people. “ [p.79]“But we also see that is not simply the names and labels we invoke that affect children, or that a matter the love with which we embrace them, but the ways we unwittingly use language to position them and provide them with a means to name and maim themselves.” [p.79]“Social-emotional orientations toward literacy learning are very much associated with who children think they are and what they think they are doing which, to some degree at least, reflects classroom conversations and social arrangements. “ [p.82]“Is getting children to understand that they have something to say, and then engaging with others is in their own developmental interest in terms of what they can learn about the world and themselves as learners, and the thoughts they can entertain. “ [p.83]

  • Mr. Halter
    2019-05-10 08:00

    A strong argument for changing education from I to we and learning collaboratively. Offers a multitude of helpful questions and ways to encourage classroom conversation and meaning making.

  • Fred Gorrell
    2019-04-30 02:40

    This book distills the author's experience visiting classrooms over many years, and codifies effective word choice for teachers who wish to amplify the positive impact of communication with students. Of particular interest are his discussions of language targeted at helping children develop independence, efficacy, and self-images that promote lifelong learning and love of literacy. The ideas in this book can be taken into the classroom and put to use immediately; in my experience, they yield positive results instantly. If your teaching involves providing descriptive feedback - on student writing samples for example - the advice available here is critically important. With a little thought, these ideas can also be taken beyond the classroom to improve the constructive impact of communication in a variety of situations.It was particularly interesting to read Dr. Johnston's description of a practice known elsewhere as "aspirational reflection." In effect, when a student is seen approximating a level of mastery not quite yet attained, the explicit reference to the work giving rise to this assessment is reflected back in teacher-originated descriptive feedback as though it was effectively at the level of mastery, using words that help the student close the gap. This encourages the student to perceive the possibility of operating at that higher level of mastery, and it promotes a more vigorous reach in that direction in subsequent work.Dr. Johnston gave the final keynote address last July at the Reading Institute conducted by the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project (TCRWP) at Columbia University. His selection for this honor seems to have been purposeful. If you are familiar with and embrace the work published and presented by this organization, you should enjoy this short volume; the fingerprints of this work can be found on everything they do and say. Many people come away from TCRWP events feeling revitalized and ready to re-commit to more effective teaching, very probably because of the proficiency achieved by members of the Project's staff in communicating in alignment with the ideas in this book.

  • Virginia
    2019-05-09 05:41

    When visitors enter a classroom, they can immediately sense specific things about what goes on in that classroom. Peter Johnston and his colleagues studied classrooms where students appeared to have a sense of agency, were strategic thinkers, viewed themselves as literate readers and writers, and treated one another with empathy and respect. Johnston found that there was a definite commonality that could be detected in these highly effective and productive classrooms. That common piece was the way that the teachers use language to help their students build narratives in which they are readers, writers, poets, people with good ideas and strong skills, and members of a community that discusses, wonders, examines, and learns together in a respectful way.Choice Words is all about bringing these examples of the effective use of language to our attention. Throughout the book Johnston shares specific examples of teacher language and the effects this language has on students. He also explains why this language works the way it does. As a teacher, I know that there are things that I say and do unwittingly that may have positive or negative effects on my students. Johnston's goal is to make teachers more aware so that they can incorporate the effective language into their daily dealings with students until the language becomes a part of who they are and how they interact with students.While the focus of this book is supposed to be the language arts, it has much farther reaching implications. It is really about creating intellectual environments in which students successfully become competent, more knowledgeable, and more able, but also become more confident, caring individuals who can think critically and logically, problem solve, and collaborate with others to make something greater than they could on their own.I found this to be a very powerful, thought-provoking book. I'm sure that I will be revisiting it often in the future!

  • Sau53
    2019-05-02 06:54

    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.Choice Words shows how teachers accomplish this using their most powerful teaching tool: language. Throughout, Peter Johnston provides examples of apparently ordinary words, phrases, and uses of language that are pivotal in the orchestration of the classroom. Grounded in a study by accomplished literacy teachers, the book demonstrates how the things we say (and don't say) have surprising consequences for what children learn and for who they become as literate people. Through language, children learn how to become strategic thinkers, not merely learning the literacy strategies. In addition, Johnston examines the complex learning that teachers produce in classrooms that is hard to name and thus is not recognized by tests, by policy-makers, by the general public, and often by teachers themselves, yet is vitally important.This book will be enlightening for any teacher who wishes to be more conscious of the many ways their language helps children acquire literacy skills and view the world, their peers, and themselves in new ways.

  • Alyssa Black
    2019-05-17 06:44

    Though small, this book is powerful. A friend of mine had recommended this book to me earlier this year, and after consistently sharing examples of how I could reframe my speech with my students and colleagues, I finally bought it.Choice Words is a book that shows teachers how they can better talk and interact with their students. It gives example phrases that you might use in different situations to promote social/emotional/academic growth. Immediately, I noticed my language changing. How can I help my students develop a sense of agency? Capability? Growth? This book has it.I don't think enough teachers recognize that their language has a profound effect on the people they work with. It's disappointing. This book is a simple way to look at small changes that can be made.I cannot recommend this book enough. Give it to the teacher who wants to be more positive (or doesn't know that they aren't being negative). Give it to the teacher who just needs that extra framework to build in what they are already working on. Give it to the teacher who believes in what their students are capable of. Honestly, this and Donalyn Miller's The Book Whisperer are the two most useful, powerful, engaging books in my stack of educator books.