Today is a continuation of yesterday's lesson. We will be stretching our vocabulary by learning synonyms for some common adjectives using Thesaurus.com. Students will use these newly acquired adjectives in their sentence writing. As the school year continues and we dive deeper into the research process in writing, students will be able to see that using an electronic thesaurus is quick, easy, and a valuable tool to help them find more interesting words to put in their writing. By the end of the year, I am hoping students will be able to access the thesaurus through a hyperlink on the computer and find synonyms for ordinary words when writing independently.
Today, I am in control of the keyboard when we are using Thesaurs.com. Students can get into trouble easily by misusing or misunderstanding vocabulary words if they just start randomly picking words. Let's face it. Our students are 6 and 7 - they'll do just that. For example, my students used the word yellow to describe the lemon in yesterday's lesson. If I type in yellow into Thesaurus.com I get many synonyms for the words coward or cowardly. I only want my students to choose words dealing with words relating to the color yellow in this context. Standard L1.5d even talks about how words can have different shades of meaning depending on the context of how the word is used. I wouldn't expect my students to be able to differentiate between these categories and shades of meaning without my support. This is why I am guiding them today when using this resource.
Today's lesson is all about making good word choices. I know teachers that teach higher grade levels may not like Thesaurus.com because their students will make superficial changes to their writing by switching out adjectives and verbs instead of truly revising their paper. I will bring this issue out in my lesson today, and I will also show students how to revise in our informational writing units on deep level, not a superficial one.
For today's lesson you will want either the Smartboard Sensory Adjectives.notebook or Activboard Sensory Adjectives.flipchart lesson. You'll also need to make enough copies of the adjective synonyms chart Adjective Synonym Chart.pdf and the sentence writing Sentence Writing With Adjectives.pdf papers for each student in your class. Students will also need their sensory adjective charts from yesterday's lesson.
I brought the students to the floor and turned on my Smartboard. Students had their sensory charts, something hard to write on (our basal reader) and a pencil. I defined for my students what a thesaurus was and told them that they could easily find a digital thesaurus by using Thesaurus.com.
I said, "Who would like tell me what color the lemon was? That's right. Yellow. Let's find a better adjective than yellow." I went to thesaurus.com. I typed in yellow. I said, "Today, I am going to help you find better adjectives to use than what we came up with yesterday. Let's see why you need my help today." I showed the students the entries for craven, coward, and cowardly. I said, "It's a little old-fashioned now, but sometimes people say that if you are afraid to do something you are 'yellow.' It means the same thing as cowardly. Sometimes words can have different meanings based on how the word is used in a sentence. I would never expect you to figure out which shades of meaning are right for us because we are still growing our vocabularies so much, so I will help you today. As you grow older and your vocabularies get larger, you will be able to figure out which shades of meaning are correct, and you'll be able to use this resource on your own."
We continued on, and I said, "Sometimes you have to check these words out to make sure it's the one we want to use. Let's click on some of these words and make sure we are using them correctly." I clicked on 'flavicomous,' and it said "no results found" and "did you mean filofaxes?" I came upon the same results for the words 'fulvid' and 'flavescent.' I said, "Do you see why I'm helping you today? You have to be really careful and make sure you are choosing a word that means the same thing as the color yellow. You can see that just because it's listed doesn't make the word correct - don't use a word unless you know what it means is a good rule."
We continued on until we finished our chart. I typed in the ordinary adjective and then directed the students to the correct category if multiple categories came up for a word. I allowed students to pick a word from the category if they knew it was the correct synonym for our original adjective. If the student was unsure, I would click on the word and we would look at the definition. We would work together as a class to determine if it was a true synonym or not.
After we worked on finding synonyms for our adjectives, I sent my students back to their tables. I gave my students their writing papers and said, "Now, I want you to apply what you learned about adjectives and write me 5 sentences about some of the foods you observed yesterday. When you write your sentences, I want you to use the new adjectives you learned about today. Refer to your synonym chart to help yourself out."
I circulated around the room, making sure students were writing correctly and using their new adjectives. You can see my students working by watching the video here: Writing Sentences With New Adjectives.mp4.
My students had done a great deal of writing today, so I wanted our closure to be short and done orally. I partnered my students up and told them whether they were Person 1 or Person 2. I said, You will each have a turn to tell your partner why it is important to learn about adjectives; then tell them a new adjective you learned today and what it means." I gave each student 1 minute to talk to their partners.