Time needed: 1 Introduction Lesson (20 minutes)
3 Mini Lessons (10-15 minutes each)
Learn about word choice by listening to mentor texts.
Identify descriptive phrases and varied word choice within mentor texts.
Attempt to vary word choice in their own work.
Use independent reading bins to search for examples of varied word choice and phrases.
Share examples of descriptive phrases and varied word choice with peers in a variety of ways.
Apply their new knowledge of descriptive phrases and varied word choice to their own writing.
Produce writing that includes language that creates good mental imagery.
Lesson 1 (20 minutes):
1. For this lesson have an outline of an empty pie on a chart paper or the Smart Board. This anchor chart will be the collection point for descriptive phrases and varied word choices that students find and share.
2. Have class sit together at reading rug. Ask students if they have words that they love to say or read. What kind of words that are their favorites? Why? Let students share some of their favorite words with a neighbor. Listen for examples of especially powerful words and have those students share their words with the group. Discuss what makes those words great choices.
3. Tell students that they are going to fill this pie with delicious ingredients. The ingredients will be all the powerful words that they find and use. As students share their words record them inside the pie. Explain that authors pick their words carefully. They need to choose words that capture, excite, and interest their audience. We are going to work together to learn to pick words for our writing that do the same thing.
4. Read the book Sweet Dream Pie by Audrey Wood & Marl Teague. For today just have students listen for powerful words and phrase that the authors use to help us enjoy their story.
5. As students head out to start Writers Workshop encourage them to experiment with adding words in their writing that will catch their audience's attention, excite them, and keep them interested.
6. While conferring with students look for examples of good word choice. Encourage those students to share their words during sharing time as you wrap up workshop.
Lesson 2 (10-15 minutes)
1. For today's lesson pick two or three of your favorite pages from Sweet Dream Pie. Tell students that you are going to reread some of your favorite parts of this book. Tell them you love to read these parts because the words the authors chose to use are words that catch your attention and put very powerful images in your mind.
a. Pa Brindle blew the cobwebs off the trunk, then threw it open - and all the cats in the neighborhood opened one eye (Wood & Teague, 1999).
What images come into your mind when you hear that line? What questions do you have? What were some of the powerful words that the authors used?
b. An enormous mixing bowl, a great rolling pin, a gigantic pie pan, and a small brass bell glistened in the lantern light (Wood & Teague, 1999).
I love that line because it makes me want to keep reading to see why they have all these items stored in a trunk in their attic. Have students think about which words in that sentence they think were the most powerful? Have them turn and share their neighbor.
2. Instruct students to again think about the word choices they make as they write during workshop today. Remind them of how the Brindle's filled their pie with delicious ingredients. We need to fill our pie (anchor chart) with powerful words and colorful phrases. As they are writing today they should consider sharing their powerful word choices at our workshop wrap up.
Lesson 3 (10-15 minutes) Connecting Reading and Writing Workshops -- A Reading Workshop Mini Lesson
Just like my students have a book bin for Readers Workshop I keep a bin of books that I read handy at all times. This box contains everything from picture books, chapter books, poetry, magazines, to professional text. I change the books in the bin from time to time and use them for reading mini lessons often. For today's mini lesson I will use them to encourage my students to search their book bins for examples of great word choice. If you don't keep a similar box think about books that you can use for the same purpose. It would be best to choose books that you've shared previously so students will have good schema for some of the lines that you choose.
1. Explain to students that authors are able to make great word choices because they know a lot of words. One way that authors learn words is by reading a lot! Since that is something that we also do we can begin collecting great powerful words and phrases as we read.
2. Begin going through several books in my book box and look for times that the author used great examples of varied word choice or descriptive phrases. Remind students that these examples put great images in our minds, they excite us and make us want to keep reading. Notice how the authors group words in powerful descriptive phrases.
- The following is a list of books that I have shared recently. These are books I enjoy reading again and again because of the great choices the authors have made. My students know them well and would easily be able to pick out favorite parts.
a. Memoirs of a Goldfish By: Devin Scillian
b. Splat the Cat: Back to School, Splat! By Rob Scotton
c. Say Hello to Zorro! By: Carter Goodrich
d. Click, Clack, Moo Cows that Type By: Doreen Cronin
e. Ivy + Bean by Annie Barrows (Books 2 and 8 are my favorites!)
3. During Readers Workshop have students look for examples of varied word choices and descriptive phrases that they can bring to sharing time during our workshop wrap up. As a group decide if each example is powerful enough to add to our anchor chart.
Lesson 4 (10-15 minutes) Making Better Word Choices for Existing Writing
1. Prepare an anchor chart ahead showing a two column note. Label left side First Draft and right side label Other Ways to Say This. Have 3 or 4 prewritten stories from previous writing lessons and write them in the First Draft Column.
2. Explain to students that the when you wrote these stories together they were good but today we are going to work together to make them better. Use first story to model picking out one place that you might be able to say something in a better way. Highlight that part of the story. On the right side list all the different ways you could say the same thing. They reread all of them thinking about which way says it best. Circle the one you plan to use.
3. Repeat the process for the next story. Do not finish all of them if time does not allow. Any stories left can be used for re-teaching in small groups or for additional mini lessons if needed.
4. During Writers Workshop encourage students to look through some of their earlier writing pieces and find one place that they could revise with better word or phrase choices.
5. Have students volunteer to share some of their revisions during the wrap up portion of Writers Workshop.
Gathering Data for Additional Lessons and Assessment:
Share time during workshop wrap up and Individual conferences during Writers Workshop will allow for monitoring student progress and understanding. Have a copy of Teacher Writing Guide for Word Choice from Creating Writers by Vicki Spandel, for each student. Use it to mark your thinking as students share their writing pieces with you. Be willing to use this same sheet for multiple observations. Make notes in different colors and then date so you can chart progress from one observation or conference to the next. This will allow for anecdotal notes about where each student is currently working.
Use these anecdotal notes to help establish clusters of students that may need re-teaching around specific ideas.
You may also notice that some students are much more proficient than others in this area. Plan to teach some small enrichment groups if needed. Specific lessons will need to be determined based on student work. Some ideas may include:
o Noticing how word choice affects voice.
o Specific study on parts of sentences; nouns, adjectives, verbs, etc.
o Using repetition purposefully to enhance fluency or imagery.
As students demonstrate that they are becoming more proficient in their understanding of Word Choice make plans for them to select one piece from their writing portfolio in which they will revise using the Student Writing Guide for Word Choice from Creating Writers by Vicki Spandel. An additional series of lessons will be needed as students learn to work within this guide. Final drafts can be used for scoring.
Spandel, V. (2013). Creating Writers 6 Traits, Process, Workshop, and Literature. Boston: Pearson.
Wood, A., & Teague, M. (1998). Sweet Dream Pie. New York: Scholastic Inc.