Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Look It Up!

Leslie Dobbs

Description

Students improve their writing skills by finding, defining, and correctly using new and interesting vocabulary words.

Objectives

The student selects appropriate meaning for a word according to context.

The student focuses on a central idea or topic (for example, excluding loosely related, extraneous, or repetitious information).

The student demonstrates a commitment to and an involvement with the subject that engages the reader.

The student logically sequences information using alphabetical, chronological, and numerical systems.

Materials

-Dictionaries for student use
-Prepared instructions on board or overhead for activity
-Prepared writing prompts on board or overhead
-Prepared writing posters or helpful writing tips (optional)

Preparations

1. Prepare dictionaries for student or group use.
2. Decide how to divide the class(es) into groups of three or four.
3. Write instructions for activity on the board or overhead:
A. Find and define ten new vocabulary words.
B. Arrange new vocabulary words in alphabetical order.
C. Write a grammatically-correct sentence for each new vocabulary word.
4. Prepare two writing topics and write on the board or the overhead.
5. You may also wish to display posters or other information for essay writing to help the students.

Procedures

Day 1

1. Review the assignment with the students. Discuss the importance of using creative and interesting vocabulary words in one's writing. Discuss different ways the students can discover new vocabulary words (reading new literature, looking in dictionaries, or using a thesaurus).

2. Divide the students into groups of three or four.

3. Introduce the assignment. The students work together to find, define, and use in sentences ten words with which they are all unfamiliar. Each student creates his or her own dictionary of these new vocabulary words to use in a writing assignment.

4. Pass out dictionaries to each group, preferably one dictionary per student.

5. Instruct the students on how to find their vocabulary words. One way you may choose involves a group member flipping open the dictionary to a random page. The group then chooses one word from this page. Every group member copies the word, part of speech, and definition on a sheet of paper. Remind the students to pick words they have not studied before and do not use in their writings. The group then repeats this process until ten words have been found and copied. The students will also need to make sure each word is put in alphabetical order. Each group member should then have his or her own dictionary of personal vocabulary words to begin using.

6. The students then begin writing an original sentence for each of their vocabulary words. They will add these sentences to their personal dictionaries. In order to use the words correctly in sentences, the students may continue to work together as a group to write the sentences.

7. When the groups have finished, briefly review the assignment with the students. Ask for volunteers to read aloud a few words and sentences from their newly-created dictionaries.

8. After the review, collect the students' personal dictionaries to assess if the students have used the new words correctly in the sentences.

Day 2

Note: Assessing the dictionaries may take longer than one day, depending on how many students you have. You may consider assigning additional vocabulary studies or writing assignments until you are ready to pass back dictionaries.

1. When you have finished assessing the dictionaries, pass them back to the students.

2. Review the importance of using creative and interesting vocabulary words in your writing. Discuss the students' personal dictionaries and point out some interesting words you may have learned as you read through the dictionaries.

3. Discuss with the students how their new vocabulary words can be used to improve their writing. Ask the students to use their new vocabulary words in a writing assignment.

4. Direct the students to two writing prompts on the board or the overhead (see examples below). Instruct the students to write a three to five paragraph essay (depending on how much writing the students have already done in class) about one of the two writing prompts. The students may choose their favorite prompt, but they will need to use at least three of their personal vocabulary words in the essay.

Example Writing Prompts (these may be rewritten to fit into the three-part prompt format if your students are familiar with that format):

A. Write to convince a friend to join a particular club, sport, or activity. Persuade your friend to join by discussing three benefits this club, sport, or activity has to offer.

B. Write to explain how to participate in your favorite activity. Provide detailed directions about how to create something or how to play a sport.

5. You may wish to collect these essays at the end of class, or you may allow the students to finish the essays for homework. If your students' writing will be assessed soon on a standardized test, you may wish to use this lesson as an opportunity for a timed writing practice.

6. When the students have finished the essays, review the assignment. Were the students able to use their new vocabulary words in their essays? Do the students think their essays are more interesting with the new vocabulary words? How can the students continue to use these vocabulary words in the future and beyond the classroom?

7. Collect the essays and score them using the attached rubric. You may wish to review the assignment again when you return the essays. You may also allow the students to read each other's essays before or after you score them yourself. Then the students can see first-hand how much of an impact vocabulary usage can have on their writing.

Assessments

I. Assessment of personal dictionaries:
Grade A:
~Student has defined ten new and interesting vocabulary words;
~Student has placed these words in alphabetical order;
~Student has written a grammatically correct sentence for each vocabulary word.

Grade B:
~Student has defined ten new and interesting vocabulary words;
~Student has placed these words in alphabetical order;
~Student has attempted to write a sentence for each vocabulary word, but not all the words have been used correctly.

Grade C:
~Student has defined ten vocabulary words, some of which the student has used before in writing examples;
~Student has attempted to alphabetize the words but not all the words are in correct order;
~Student has attempted to write a sentence for each vocabulary word but not all the words have been used correctly.

Grade D:
~Student has defined ten vocabulary words, some of which the student has used before in writing examples;
~Student has attempted to alphabetize the words but not all the words are in correct order;
~Student has not written a grammatically correct sentence for the words.

Grade F:
~Student has not defined ten new vocabulary words;
~Student has not put the words in alphabetical order;
~Student has not written a grammatically correct sentence for the words.

II. Assessment for essays:
Score 3 (commendable)
~Student has written an interesting three to five paragraph essay;
~Student writing is consistently on topic;
~Student has correctly used at least three new vocabulary words;
~Student has few if any grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors.

Score 2 (acceptable)
~Student has written a three to five paragraph essay;
~Student writing is consistently on topic;
~Student has correctly used at least three new vocabulary words;
~Student has a few grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors.

Score 1 (needs improvement)
~Student has written one or two paragraphs;
~Student writing does not stay on topic;
~Student has used less than three new vocabulary words;
~Student has several grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors.

Extensions

In this activity, the students practice how to use dictionaries to find, alphabetize, and use new vocabulary words to improve their writing. Since part of this activity will be completed in groups, ESOL and ESE students can utilize peer assistance to help improve knowledge gained.
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