Sunday, September 15, 2019

The Importance of a Name




Today's post is inspired by the student’s whose names who roll beautifully from their lips, yet sit flat and awkward in my mouth. I am motivated by the time I spent in Japan, helping my friends pronounce Deb (such a familiar name here in America). Because one adding the schwa sound at the end turned my name into debu, the Japanese word for fat. 

 N’Jameh Camara’s article, Names That Are Unfamiliar to You Aren’t “Hard,” They’re “Unpracticed,” and Fauzia J Rajani’s PSA posted on Facebook, also led me to this post. 

I want to help others practice the “unpracticed” names and help all of our students feel welcome and valued.

HCR and SDE teachers- look for the these books in the Professional Development Lounge. 


The ideas I am sharing today are with the intentions of helping us and our students learn:
  • The meanings of our names
  • The importance of names for everyone
  • Various ways to practice (and learn) “unpracticed” names
  • Knowing a person’s name helps us learn about them
  • Learn a friend’s name is our responsibility 
  • Correctly pronouncing names shows them they are important and valued in our community

I recommend using this time to demonstrate for your students how to use the iPad as a tool for learning. 

Show students how an iPad can:

  • Record voice 
  • Listen to Voice Memos anytime 
  • Share voices with others
  • Type, cut, paste, revise
  • Create photos and videos
  • Write, type, and illustrate 


Available in both English and Spanish

Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela thinks she has too many names. Until Alma learns the meaning behind her name. In this beautiful story, readers learn names have a thoughtful meaning behind them. 

In The Classroom

Pair this title with getting to know about each other, helping students learn about the meaning behind their names, and building a name chart:


  • How do I pronounce the names of my friends?
  • What is the meaning behind my name? 
  • What are the interests of my friends?
  • Recognize and read the names of others.
  • Greet a friend by name. 

Make the iPad Work for YOU and AMPLIFY Learning


Record students as they say their names. Record yourself saying the same name. Listen to them both. What differences do you hear in the way you say the name? Listen to the recording again, repeat what you heard, correcting any mispronunciations.  

  • Save recordings and share via email, iMessage, or Google Drive with colleagues who also work with the child. 
  • Add a QR code (linked to the recording) to the name chart. Others can scan the QR code to hear the student accurately say their name. Thanks, @MissWhite2017 for this idea
  • Use a writing app like Pixie, Draw and Tell, Explain Everything, or Notes and ask students to tell about the meaning behind their names. 
    • These apps will allow students to illustrate, type, screencast, insert photos, and record audio! 
  • Send the completed creation to Chatterpix, and invite a student to voice the picture! 
  • Share the creativity and help others to learn about your students. Use a sharing app like, Flipgrid, Padlet, Kidblog, email, or hang it out in the hall with QR codes for others to scan! 
  • Print the students work and assemble into a book for the class to read. Or create a slideshow in Google Slides, KeyNote or iPhoto! 
    • When conferences roll around, set a laptop in the hall, and play the slideshow for parents as they wait. 
  • Share the work digitally with your class on Google Drive, KidBlog, Flipgrid, Canvas, Padlet, or Notability.
  • Are you on Twitter? Share a link to the students work and invite conversations with others AND inspire others to learn about the students in their classrooms! 


More Books to Inspire and Teach the Importance of Names






Are you ready to try out some coding…. Let's work together! 






In this story, Unhei is worried about kids learning her name. She creates a plan to choose a new “easy” name. When the day comes for Unhhei to accept her new name, she discovers her classmates want to help. This story shows how Unhei reflects on her culture and how her name is vital to who she is. 




Just Dog is a dog named Dog. Dog thinks he deserves a name that tells about him. More than just dog. He and the cat Midnight set out to find a new name. Dog comes to realize the importance of being yourself and the meaning of names. 



By Kevin Henkes