Beacon Lesson Plan Library
Lee County School District
Are you tired of reading students' bland language? This lesson teaches students how to spice up their work using vivid words and images.
The student uses words and images that best express intended messages.
-3” x 3” Post-it notes, enough for 3 or 4 sheets per student
-Pictures of scenery (art prints, calendars, etc.), 12-14 minimum
-Collection of pens, pencils, markers
-Cardboard cutouts of gravestones (5-10 for display of boring words you wish the students to avoid)
-Overhead or print of Monet's [White Waterlilies]
-Overhead projector with a working bulb
-Several write-on overheads
-Multi-colored overhead pens
-Copies of Bland Paragraph, one per student (See Associated File)
-Overhead copy of Bland Paragraph
-Thesauri and dictionaries
-Overhead of teacher-created bland sentences
-Chalkboard or white board
1. Prepare tombstones with overused words that have become bland and boring. Cut out the tombstones and label each one. (Some ideas of boring words could be: said, did, go, blue, green, red, big, little.) Post these tombstones around the room before the students arrive.
2. Make an overhead of bland sentences to use as a teaching tool.
3. Make enough copies of the Bland Paragraph (See Associated File) so each student has one.
4. Make an overhead of the Bland Paragraph. Make sure you have an overhead projector that works.
5. Collect assorted scenic pictures. Old calendar prints work well, as do inexpensive reprints of art works.
6. Assemble assorted pens, pencils, overhead pens, and 3” x 3” Post-it notes.
1. Teach the students how to substitute vivid words for bland ones, modeling the substitutions on an overhead.
2. Students practice substitutions on the Bland Paragraph. I've included an example that I use. (See Associated File) The revised paragraphs should be shared with classmates in groups. Volunteers can share their ideas with the class by editing the overhead copy.
3. Show the overhead or picture of Monet's [White Waterlilies]. Students and teacher brainstorm ideas, feelings, and descriptive words on the white board or chalkboard.
4. Everyone, including the teacher, writes individual poems about the picture, using ideas brainstormed earlier.
5. Have students edit their poems so they fit on a 3” x 3” Post-it note. Stick these on the white board or chalkboard for the class to enjoy and give positive feedback. (I have these done without names.)
6. Post scenic calendar pictures or art prints around the room.
7. Students do a “walk-about” observing all pictures. Students choose one that “says something” to them, or reminds them of something or some place. They write down notes, details, and feelings. Remind them to use vivid words.
8. Students use notes to write their poem. They edit for vivid language and eliminate bland, unnecessary words.
9. Students write the final copy of their poem on a 3” x 3” Post-it note with their name on the back. They post the poem by the picture it goes with when they're finished.
10. The class does another final “walk-about” to share the poems.
11. Students' progress is assessed by the teacher who looks for the use of vivid, descriptive words and images.
Evidence: The student writes a poem.
Criteria: The teacher assesses the student's use of vivid, descriptive words and images to express reactions and feelings about the picture. Depending on each student's ability, the teacher should expect from five to ten descriptive words and/or images in this short piece.
1. Any copy of a work of art can be substituted for Monet's [White Waterlilies].
2. This activity can easily be adapted for pair work, an acceptable adaptation for ESOL/ESL or ESE students.
3. An extension of this activity, suitable for advanced or gifted students:
>Use a larger Post-it note and require a longer, more involved poem.
>Journal entry for the last/first person to live there.
>Combine scenes for a story written either individually or in pairs.
A fun site for kids to check out poetry.Giggle Poetry
If students get "turned on" to this form of expression, you might want to direct them to this site. They have a chance to be published and even win some money.Poetry.Com