Wednesday, November 2, 2011
This is one of my favorite lessons for October! To practice using a thesaurus and improving word choice in our writings, my class chooses words to bury. These ‘dead words’ are either over used words or weak words. First, my class brainstorms words that we use too often or that aren’t very strong at getting our thoughts across to the reader. I have a container that holds dead words written on slips of paper. The students reach in and pick a word. They have to think of how they use this word: is it a verb, an adjective, or an adverb. Then, they use the classroom thesauruses to look it up. I require 12 alternatives, and this makes the task more challenging, as most of the words do not have that many substitutions in our thesauruses. Thus, the students often get on the classroom computers to look up other synonyms, or they brainstorm with other students. Once they have their list, they create gravestones. Once the gravestones are ready, we hold a ceremony to say goodbye to the dead words and bury them. The posters, then, hang where everyone can read them (and help create a bit of a Halloween mood too, I might add), but most importantly, when we write the students will point out to each other (and me) when a dead word is used, even after the gravestones are removed.