Sunday, March 30, 2014

FREE LANGUAGE ARTS LESSON - Mental Picture Moment: Make Every Word Count

Mental Picture Moment: Make Every Word Count

by: Connie Casserly
Grades 6-12

Mental Picture Moment: Make Every Word Count cover
A word picture showing the magnificence of the Grand Canyon can be as awe-inspiring as viewing this nature's wonder in person. On the other hand, a mass of vague words will create a foggy and forgettable Kodak moment.

Writing that includes generalities instead of be-Be-BEING Specific bugs me. That's why I created this activity based on bugs- a cockroach- to be exact. 
I copied the poem, "Roaches", by Peter Wild,  and replaced all of the specific nouns, strong adjectives and vivid verbs with weak, bland words. I titled this variation of the poem, "Bugs." 

Students are to rewrite the poem turning my foggy word picture into a one as sensory-explosive as the original- and maybe even one that is more captivating. To accomplish this, they must consider the following when creating their Mental Picture Moment:
1.       Replace all general nouns with specific ones. Example: cardinal for bird.
2. Replace all vague verbs with vivid ones that show emotion as well as action. Example: strutted for walked.
3. Appeal to the reader’s sense of sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing. Example: crunch for chew.
4. See that some of the format used for the Bugs version, such as putting words and phrases on separate lines emphasizes specific thoughts. They should do this, too.
5. Make every word count by removing any unneeded words. Students should make their point in as few words as possible but still keep their word picture sharp and focused.
6. Show the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How completely, yet concisely.

Staple the final of drafts of the students’ original poems to a bulletin board so they can analyze the focus and clarity of their peers' work. When all of this work is finished,  hand out copies of Peter Wild’s poem. This always inspires lively discussions of the “Best Word Picture”.

Mental Picture Moment: Make Every Word Count
This activity encourages students to get the bugs out of their writing by being specific and appealing to readers' emotions instead of hiding their thoughts in the dark crevices of their minds.

For a springtime of Mental Picture Moments, let this exercise show your students how to exterminate the bugs in their writing.

Happy Teaching,

Teach it Write
Building Powerful Academic Homes

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