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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

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Get Students Using Different Words

In fifth grade my teacher Ms. Sipe outlawed “four letter words.” She wasn’t referring to swearing; she didn’t want us to use words like: good, nice, or tall. She thought we could use better words:  noble, pleasant, or towering. Why? Because these specific words gave us a better idea of what we were describing.

This is also very useful when students start paraphrasing something that is useful for many reasons.

Many of our students need help to get out of a vocabulary rut. They tend to use the same words over and over again. In some cases this is fine, whereas in others a larger vocabulary may prove more beneficial.

Here’s an activity that will get your students using different words.  This CAN be adapted to all levels depending on your use of scaffolding and the words you select.

Step 1: Show a picture of something small (an ant for instance). Ask students how they would describe the animal. Once one of them says small, write it on the board and ask what other words they know for small. Here’s a list of the words the book uses: Small, Teeny-weeny, Mini, Tiny, Microscopic. Then show something bigger (an elephant). See what words they use to describe that. Again, the book uses: Big, Large, Huge, Gigantic. If they don’t use a word, you may like to introduce it.   


Step 2: Introduce a cline. The word cline probably looks familiar to you since it is related to incline or decline. A cline is essentially a visual ranking of words. See if your students can rank the words from smallest to biggest.

Step 3: Read, “Am I small?” in the target language. With younger students you may like to read it a few times. Get them to read it. Have them do different listening activities while you read it. Then, see if their cline matches what the author thinks about the words

Step 4a: In small groups give students two opposite adjectives. Depending on the level, these can be easy (tall-short) to more difficult (rich-poor). In groups see if they can create a cline of 5-10 words. NOTE: I would tell them to try this without dictionaries or cell phones, but you may prefer that they use them. *This is an easy task to differentiate. You can give weaker students easier words, require they come up with less words, or you can give the words to them.

Step 4b: Have them identify the differences in the words. For example, the connotations, registers or denotations. For example, childlike and juvenile both mean young. However, childlike is normally more positive whereas juvenile is more negative. Ginormous is normally only used in an informal register. Antique is normally used to describe things, not people.

Step 5: See if they can create a story similar to, "Am I small?" using their own words and a unique character. Depending on the technological capabilities of your class, this can be a book using paper, a video where they act (or use puppets), a book where they cut and paste pictures from magazines, a PowerPoint, or an animated short video. If they make a book see if they can put it in their library so other students may enjoy it as well.

Here are some examples in case you want to give your students words to start.
Rich-Poor: Prosperous, Affluent, Disadvantaged, Wealthy, Well Off, Meager, Flush, Humble, Loaded, Poor, Underprivileged, Comfortable, Needy, Well-to-do, Opulant, Penniless, Destitute
Old-Young: Old, Fledgling, Ancient, Young, Mature, Childlike, Juvenile, Antique, Infantile, Immature, Underdeveloped, Decrepit, Over the Hill
Happy- Sad: Ecstatic, Sullen, Happy, Morose, Cheerful, Content, Comfortable, Unhappy, Miserable, Glum, Jovial, Gloomy
Tall- Short: Tall, Short, Lanky, Elfin, Towering, Petite, Fun sized, Gangly, Diminutive, Small, Big, Puny 

To see another activity that helps students work with different adjectives (and make your classroom pretty), stay tuned for Wednesday's post!

19 comments:

  1. Really interesting. I'm going to use it with my students.

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    1. That sounds great! Let me know how it goes, and if you make any adaptations :)

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  2. In step 4a I´d write the vocabulary all over the whiteboard for them. Thank you. Noble activity.

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    1. Great! What vocabulary would you be writing on the board? The word pairs that you gave them, or the words that they came up with?

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  3. I like the idea of a cline - I usually draw steps for the kids to place words on. Wil ltry a cline for a change.

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    1. Steps are cute too! I think the visual works either way!

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  4. Great post, or should I say double-fab?!!!!. A really good site with interestings posts. I shall have a closer look soon. Dead Poet Society is one of my favorite movies, too. I love films about teaching. Chris

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    1. I love most films about teaching. To be honest, some of them bother me as I find them entirely unrealistic, but most are tons of fun! Thanks for commenting :)

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  5. Looking forward to it. I am more than thrilled by the numebe of articles you have posted. I shall link you upo on my website. Is that ok with you?

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  6. Hi Carissa how are you doing,? i liked a lot your posts, i as not good in words llike; gigantic, huge, big, etc... but i had problem to read it and all others pots, the words are small or tiny!? and more is too much information together, and you put beside too much information too, it is confesed to read... can i give suggestion? .how about you change for another color? and beside change for color that dont make interferencia in your posts? i dont know the word for that, for use is basic color.! dont be upset with me, it is just a suggestion! hugs

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    1. Hey Louyse!

      I would LOVE to make any changes I could to help you read this site more easily, unfortunately I am not sure I can. I didn't alter this text in any way. That is to say, the text is just normal and all just black for me, so I can't make the color any more basic. Are you viewing the site from a phone or a computer? If you are viewing it from a phone, I suppose I can understand how it may be a lot of information, but this is actually one of my posts with less graphics than normal!

      If the text is too small (and you are on a computer) you can always make it bigger! Just press the Ctrl key and the + key at the same time. Or, if you are using Mozilla Firefox, you can go to your toolbar and click, "View" then "zoom in." I hope that helps!

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  7. quite useful ! I am going to implement it !

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    1. I hope it works well for you and your students!

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