Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Does Word Choice Affect the Quality of a Piece of Writing?

Michelle Gowan
Liberty County Schools


Students will work in groups to rank a list of words from one extreme to the other, such as cold-hot, love-hate, etc. Groups will share their results with the class. After discussion and upon reviewing model descriptive writing, students will apply their knowledge by making more specific word choices to complete a descriptive writing assignment.


The student demonstrates a command of the language including precise word choice and use of appropriate figurative language.


-Word lists from Associated Files
-Chalk or white board marker for each group
-Paper for groups
-Pencils for groups to draft their word rankings
-Copies of rubric or transparency/projection of rubric (See associated file)


1. Display the name of the topic/essential question somewhere in the room.
2. Make appropriate board space for each student group to list their words.
3. Determine how to divide students. It is recommended that each group have at least one high achiever and one low achiever.
4. Using the sample model literature from the Weblinks file, decide the mode of display for sharing with students, e.g., transparency, computer projection, handout and make the necessary copies/preparations.
5. Make copies of rubric and/or transparency to share with students.
6. If the associated word list is chosen for use, make copies of lists and cut out each section to assign to separate groups.


1. Ask students the essential question of the lesson: Does word choice affect the quality of a piece of writing? Allow time for discussion. Explain that today's activity will allow them time to examine this question in more detail to derive a possible conclusion and to apply it to their own writing.

2. Organize students in groups of two to four based on needs of the group.

3. Hand out a list of related words to each group. (Sample word lists are included in the Associated Files.) Each group's list should be unique from the other.

4. Allow students time to rank the list from one extreme to the other. Encourage students to add new related words to their gradient during the group activity. Allow approximately ten minutes for this activity. Groups should write their list on an assigned section of the board.

5. Groups should select a spokesperson who will share their list with the class.

6. The teacher should facilitate the discussion with questions, such as the following: Students, which writing would you enjoy reading more, one that described the sky as a field of concrete gray pillows, or the sky was gray?

7. The teacher should share a piece of literature (an example is provided in the Weblinks) that exemplifies quality word choice by handout, reading aloud, and/or on an overhead or computer projector.

8. Direct students to apply their knowledge about specific word choice by selecting any setting to write a descriptive paragraph. Share the rubric via overhead or handout that guides the assessment.

9. Allow time for students to brainstorm silently and/or in their groups.

10. The teacher should circulate and assist as needed.

11. Collect papers at the end of class or extend as a homework assignment as time dictates.

12. Upon review and assessment of writing, display and share exemplary pieces with the class.

13. Conclude the lesson with a brief discussion to respond to the title of the lesson: Does word choice affect the quality of a piece of writing?


Students will be evaluated using the Word Choice Rubric. (See attached file.)Those students who effectively included three more descriptive words from the group activity will satisfy the expected criteria. Those who include less than three descriptive words in an effective manner will be requested to revise their work.


1. The teacher could furnish a variety of paint supply store color samples for students to expand their color word lists.
2. Don't use the given word lists. Allow students to generate their own selection of words.
3. Students may use thesauruses to expand their word gradients.
4. Students could use Internet sources such as to explore additional word choices.
5. Students answer the essential question in a follow-up journal activity or discussion: Does word choice affect the quality of a piece of writing?
6. Students continue scoring practice using the 6+1 Traits web site.

Web Links

This is an on-line rubric generator. The rubric created for this lesson may be accessed on-line or via attached Associated Files.

This web site is an excellent source for locating rhymes, synonyms, definitions, and more for many, many words.

This link on the 6 + 1 Traits website shows a model piece of writing from a middle school student.
6+1 Traits

Attached Files

Rubric for Word Choice Writing Activity.     File Extension:  pdf

The Word List.     File Extension:  pdf
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