After reading my students English creative writing, it would become obvious that there are certain ‘go to’ adjectives which would repeat time and time again. Adding nothing to their writing.
How could I get them to improve their vocabulary and add a richness to their writing without hitting them over the head with a thesaurus? (Canine Comprehension does not recommend this action as a teaching technique). I would talk to my students about the importance of growing their own vocabulary, the wonderful feeling of discovering a new word and the benefits that came with having a larger vocabulary which allowed you be to better understood and say exactly what you mean.
“The big dog was mad because the man stood on his foot and it hurt a lot.”
Big, mad, hurt, a lot…
Such words used time and again in their story would mean their creations were flat and lifeless. I would sit down with each student and talk to them about using ‘better words’. From this I came up with a whole class activity called: WAR ON WORD'S!
At the end of each class I would leave 10 minutes for this activity.
I explained to the class that there were certain words which we could exchange for more exciting words. I gave an example. I wrote on the white board in large writing. “MAD” in bold.
I asked students to look in their thesaurus for more interesting synonyms.
I then started handing out 10 white board markers to students who had found a word. Those students came up to the board and got to write their synonym on the board. That student then passed their white board marker to another student who did the same. Students were allowed to go up twice, but were not allowed to write a word that was already on the board.
What we got was many, many new words students could use instead of the word ‘mad’.
I then asked the students to choose a few of those words, write them in their Vocabulary Banks and use them throughout the week. The students got used to this routine and would look for interesting ways to incorporate their new word into their speech or writing throughout the week.
I found after a while this activity looked after itself. All I had to do was leave 10 minutes at the end of class. Make sure the whiteboard was blank, write a ‘common word’ in the middle of the board and hand out the whiteboard markers. The students knew what to do and enjoyed getting on with the activity without the teacher over intervening.
My students vocabulary began to improve. My students parents were mentioning WAR ON WORD'S! in my interviews, but more importantly, my students enjoyed the feeling of discovering a new word and the benefits that came with having a larger vocabulary which allowed you be to better understood and say exactly what you mean.
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