Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Slang Ain't the Thang!

Vicky Nichols
Bay District Schools


By creating a visual image with words, the listeners are invited into the scene created by the speaker. Students look at a speaker's tools to learn how to use words and images to express a message.


The student knows when to use formal and informal English based on audience and purpose.

The student uses words and images that best express intended messages.

The student uses language appropriate to purpose and audience.


-Internet accessible computer with speakers
-Highlighted text of Speeches (See Associated File or Weblinks)
-Speaker's Tools worksheet (See Associated File)
-Transparency of highlighted copy of Sojourner Truth's speech, Ain't I a Woman (See Associated File)


1. Students should have been introduced to the words listed in Procedure #3.
2. Read over the text of the speeches.
3. Duplicate the necessary handouts.
4. After you save the handouts to your desktop, print one copy of the speech Ain't I A Woman? with highlights. Then remove the highlighting and print a plain copy.
5. If necessary, prepare examples of the vocabulary slang, formal, informal, repetition, alliteration, metaphor, imagery, analogy, compare and contrast.
6. Write the vocabulary above on chart paper, on a white board, or overhead transparency.
7. Decide on a procedure for getting students quickly into groups of 4.


Note: This is lesson three of a Unit called Speak for Yourself found on the Beacon Learning Center site.

1. Begin this lesson by discussing the previous day's homework of answering the Great Speeches Question 2. (Why is it important to consider the purpose and audience when making a speech or oral presentation?) Allow students to take notes and make any corrections since these daily questions and answers become the study materials for one of the assessments. These homework papers should be filed in the students' folders.

(At some point during the day's lesson, remind students of the unit timeline so they will not be taken by surprise the day of the assessments.)

2. While students have their folders out, have them bring out their copy of the What Makes a Good Speaker? rubric. Focus on the areas of Word Choice. Explain that this is the section of the rubric they will be learning more about today. Remind students that this rubric will be used to grade a very important assessment at the end of the unit so they need to know and understand the information on it. Ask if anyone has learned any information about their Significant Leader yet. Allow a brief amount of time for this discussion. Remind students that they can be doing research on their own outside of class. Then move on.

3. Provide students with a quick discussion of word choice and how important it is in creating a mental image for the listener. Optional activity: Ask one student to come to the front of the room. Ask him to 'walk' across. Then ask him to 'shuffle' across. Substitute words such as glide, stroll, wander, etc. Point out that the choice of the word creates the image.

4. Write the following words on the board or chart: slang, formal, informal, repetition, alliteration, metaphor, imagery, analogy, compare and contrast. Discuss each with students supplying examples. Allow students to take notes since they may need them for today's activity.

5. Distribute the unhighlighted speech (in the associated file) by Sojourner Truth. Share her background (info available in Weblinks) and then ask students to read the speech silently as you read it aloud. Ask: Who was the audience? What was the purpose? What type of language does she use? Is there a reason? Use the highlighted copy of the speech which is on a transparency (in the file) to point out examples of repetition, analogy, informal language, slang or dialect, etc. Make the point that her speech was effective even though the language was so informal because of her background and circumstances. Point out that today, an informal speech is only appropriate in informal settings, for instance, impromptu speeches at sports events.

6. Divide students into groups of 4. Distribute the highlighted copy of excerpts from George W. Bush's speech found in the Associated File. Tell students that they are welcome to read the entire speech if they want to and that it can be found at the Weblink listed below. While using their notes (see #3) students are to look in the paragraphs at the highlighted portions to see if they can find examples of each of the terms (speaker's tools) discussed. Allow 15 minutes. (NOTE: It is up to the individual teacher to have groups either write ONE response or have each student write a response.)

7. Ask groups to report on what they found. Point out any examples that they missed. Again, make the point that the word choices create a specific image in the listener's mind. Listen for opportunities to provide formative feedback (For praise: Good! You recognized rock in a raging sea was an example of a metaphor because he compares America's faith in freedom and democracy to a rock in a raging sea. For learning: No. I'm sorry, but it isn't an analogy when someone repeats a sound or group of sounds. Can someone help us learn what the President is using in this paragraph?). If students have a handle on the material, their answers can be put in their folder. If they seem to need more assistance, collect their papers and provide individual feedback.

8. Hand out the Speaker's Tools worksheet found in the Associated File. It also has the Great Speeches Question 3 on it. Students should complete the sheet for homework and bring it back to class.


Students are formatively assessed on their understanding of the questions on the Speaker's Tools worksheet during the class discussion that will take place in the next lesson. Students are also formatively assessed during the group work concerning George W. Bush's speech. Look for students' identification of the speaker's tools listed in Procedure # 3. Clarify or give examples to students who need additional information concerning the terms which are the speaker's tools.


The Beacon Unit Plan associated with this lesson can be viewed by clicking on the link located at the top of this page or by using the following URL: Once you select the unit’s link, scroll to the bottom of the unit plan page to find the section, “Associated Files.” This section contains links to the Unit Plan Overview, Diagnostic and Summative Assessments, and other associated files (if any).

Web Links

Utilize these Weblinks for background information on Sojourner Truth
Ain't I A Woman? by Sojourner Truth

Get the text of inaugural speeches.
George W. Bush's Inaugural Address

Presidential Inaugural Addresses from Washington to Present
Presidential Inaugural Addresses

Background info for Sojourner Truth
Sojourner Truth's biography

This is the entire unit including files and instructions.
Speak for Yourself

Attached Files

Two highlighted speeches and a Speaker's Tools worksheet.     File Extension: pdf

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