Assessment: Connotation & Denotation

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SWBAT distinguish among the connotations of words with similar denotations by reading two poems.

Big Idea

Time to show what you know about connotation and denotation.

Word Roots Warm-up

10 minutes

Today I begin a warm-up unit based on Greek & Latin roots.  This is borrowed very heavily from Mastering Vocabulary by Stephanie Riddle, M.A. Ed.  As we are charged with having students "use common, grade-appropriate Greek or Latin affixes and roots as clues to the meaning of a word," I will spend a few weeks having students work through Greek and Latin roots in a systemic manner.

To begin this unit, I have students set up a paper for Cornell Notes.  However, instead of the left-hand column being labeled "questions," I will have them label it "roots."  Using the PowerPoint slides, I have them fill out the Essential Question for the day.

I then go through the eight roots with them one-by-one. 

Today is just for taking initial notes.  Tomorrow, they will take notes on seven more roots.  Then, on the next two days, we will practice with some words containing the roots.  The fifth day of the unit will be for a quick, formative quiz.

Once today's notes are complete, students will put this paper in their binder, and we can move on to the main focus of today's lesson.


5 minutes

Once we have finished with our root study for the day, I have student take out their Connotation & Denotation Cornell Notes.  I let them know they are about to take an assessment over this concept, and I tell them it is open note.

To prepare, I have made a class set of the two poems.  I then print an assessment for each student.  If you are limited on paper, these questions could be printed as a class set as well, and students could write on plain, lined paper.


Getting Down to Business

35 minutes

To begin the assessment, I read the two poems about roaches to my students.  This is a great time to ham it up.  To be successful with this assessment, they really need to hear the ickiness of Wild's roach and the cuteness of Morley's.

Once I have taken my bows, I will hand each student a copy of the poems to use as a resource and a copy of the test.

I draw students' attention to the instructions that ask them to "cite lines from the poems to support your answers."  I explain that this means I want to know the exact words that support what they are saying about denotations and connotations.

Students have the remainder of the class period to finish the assessment.

Grading the Assessment

My rubric for grading this summative assessment is quite simple.  Each question receives:

  • 3 points - I feel like they've got it.
  • 2 points - answers are close, but not quite.
  • 1 point - they're not quite there yet.


When I say "they've got it," what I'm wanting to see in their answers is acknowledgement that denotation is a literal meaning and connotations are feelings or associations of meaning.