Let’s Bury Those “Dead Words”

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SWBAT eliminate ordinary words from their writing.

Big Idea

Word choice improvement.


10 minutes

Prompt:  Explain why you should eliminate “Dead Words” from your writing.

 Using this prompt as a class starter, I encouraged students to begin thinking of overused words and the reasons why it is important to vary word choice. Students wrote this as  a short response paragraph.

 When students were done writing, they shared their ideas with partners.  As a whole class, I asked volunteers to share important/interesting points discussed with their partner.  I encouraged students to add information that they heard in the discussion to their response.



Tombstone Activity

30 minutes

In a small group (4 – 5 students),  students created a Tombstone using the “dead word” assigned to their group.  I wrote each “dead word” on a post-it for each group.

These “Dead Words” were teacher generated.  Suggested “Dead Words”: stuff, have, good, sad, very, said, go, fun, walk, pretty, get, bad, happy, so, come, nice, run, like, feel, can, make, tell, do, help, put.

 Information students need on the tombstone:  RIP, "Dead Word", today's date, Survived by: 5  synonyms.

Using chalk the students can write the information on their tombstone made out of black construction paper.  Use any size construction paper, cut the one end in a rounded shape.

 Students used a thesaurus to locate synonyms that could be substituted for the “Dead Word”.  We discussed how the chosen synonyms should be appropriate for a seventh grade student’s writing.



10 minutes

After creating the tombstone for their "Dead Word", students began writing a group Eulogy to be presented to the class.  Groups brainstormed their ideas while one student recorded these thoughts; another student was the writer of the Eulogy incorporating the brainstormed ideas.  Others in the group decided who would present the Eulogy and how other members would respond within the presentation.  This discussion identified specific roles of each member and also focused upon the need for eye contact with the audience, clarity of voice, and distinct pronunciation for the audience to understand and appreciate the eulogy

Students presented their “Dead Word” to the class by depicting a short eulogy for the word.  The presentation included the word and at least the synonyms, however, it could be much more elaborate.

I posted these tombstones on a wall for the whole year.  Each year I am amazed how students refer to these tombstones throughout the year.