What is a symposium? Vocabulary and Reading in the Horizon Project

The educators working on Horizon have a private Ning that we’re not sharing. However, as I post my reflections there, I am going to bring some of them that are appropriate here to my public blog.

A student literally RAN to me this morning.

“Mrs. Vicki, Mrs. Vicki, I was up all night and my Internet was down, you have GOT to answer my question!
WHAT is a SYMPOSIUM!!!”

This word came from the Horizon report which he was reading again as he was going to sleep last night. The report talked about a symposium conducted online.

Symposium of course is an “SAT word” and I think an important one to move to higher education. But it is not just about that!

We teach students here to read with pen and highlighter handy (even our literature books) and he had circled this word in several places.

Now, Horizon is not about vocabulary and yet it hit me, it is!

I looked again at the language and vocabulary used in this report. I’d be interested if the original authors did a Word Check on the report to see what grade level it is. (I’m going to write on Alan Levine’s chatterwall.)

But I’ll say this, it is definitely college-level reading material. Perhaps by exposing students to such scholarly reports and talking with them as they digest it, we are indeed building vocabulary and reading skills as well as being a great project.

Also interesting, he doesn’t have a dictionary in his room but rather types define:google. He had forgotten how to google on his cell phone. Perhaps teaching how to google via cell phone is an important skill! (I would say a vital skills)

THat way students have their dictionary with them all night and don’t have to be distressed trying to figure out the meaning of symposium!

Update: Alan Levine kindly provided me with the document to analyze. Word says this It has a 13.8 grade level and a Flesch Kincaid Reading Ease of 33 (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flesch-Kincaid_Readability_Test)

(O-30 are best understood by college grads – the lower the number, the harder to read.)

So basically, although centered around technology, this is a great project for reading comprehension and vocabulary as well.

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2 thoughts on “What is a symposium? Vocabulary and Reading in the Horizon Project

  1. Hi Vicki
    Did your student find the original definition of a symposium, I wonder? I first came across it when the guide at Petra (Jordan) told us – and a check on Wikipedia has confirmed it:
    “Symposium originally referred to a drinking party (the Greek verb sympotein means “to drink together”) but has since come to refer to any academic conference, whether or not drinking takes place. The sympotic elegies of Theognis of Megara and two Socratic dialogues, Plato’s Symposium and Xenophon’s Symposium all describe symposia in the original sense.”
    If you read the article further, it seems that you and I would be excluded … other than being part of the entertainment.
    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symposium

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