Since I knew I'd only have one week with my little group before school officially starts, I wanted to work on something that would get them excited about fourth grade writing. So, I decided to dedicate the whole week to word choice! We all know that kids' vocabularies grow as they get older, but how can we teach them to remember to use these wonderful words when they put pencil to paper? Giving students a list of vivid synonyms (we call them "razzle dazzle" words!) to replace worn out/overused words is easy for them and us, but I've found that a lot of my students tend to get "word drunk" once they rely too much on whipping out that word list every time they write. I'll emphasize how important it is for them to throw away worn out words and replace them with "razzle dazzle" words from their word list, and then I'll read sentences like this:
"I once helped an ancient lady put her groceries in the car."
Poor woman... I'd need help with my groceries, too, if I was several centuries old. "Elderly" would have been much more appropriate, but how was my student to learn this from a word list? We have to teach our budding writers that learning new words comes with time and if you write with "razzle dazzle" words that are completely unfamiliar to you, even if it "sounds cool," your writing will be formulaic, wordy, and maybe just downright offensive! I put together a word list that students can build on their own and update throughout the year as they learn new "razzle dazzle" words through reading, conversations, teachers, etc. They will be able to see different shades of meaning in synonyms and refer only to the "razzle dazzle" words that they're familiar with. Hopefully I won't be reading about anymore ancient ladies!
You might be wondering why I left out the word "said." I'm saving the "Said is Dead" theme for later on in the year when we work on adding more dialogue to our stories. "My Razzle Dazzle Words" pairs very nicely with Crickwing by Janell Cannon. She's also the author of one of my childhood favorites, Stellaluna.
Thank you to Mrs. T from Teaching Mrs. T for nominating me for the "One Lovely Blog" Award! Most blogs I follow have this award and I just did a round of 20 nominations for other awards, so I want to wait a bit on nominating 15 more for this one. I hope you can forgive me! ; )