It is important that we teach our students about adjectives because that is one way to really strengthen their speaking and writing skills; however, in order to ensure students use of adjectives, we must teach them in a meaningful way! This lesson is a way for students to break apart and glue back together adjectives! I love having students think about individual adjectives and then take one or two and correctly put them into a sentence! This brief activity is an introductory lesson and it can be pushed out into daily practice for a week or so. I love supporting students with this activity that invites them to use individual adjectives in their own sentences!
This lesson will be introduced in the whole group format, on the carpet in front of the students.
Prior to this lesson, students will have been introduced to adjectives, so they should have some familiarity with what exactly an adjective really is.
"Today, we are going to work with adjectives." (wait time) "Now, I know that we should remember what adjectives are; but I want to see us visualize and use adjectives for ourselves!" (wait time)
"Right now, I am going to give you some adjectives to describe someone's shoes... and I want you to close your eyes and visualize these adjectives. Let me show you what I mean."
Model: "I am going to close my eyes and visualize. I will think aloud for you to hear how I am doing this." (wait time) "My eyes are closed... and the first word is red. Hmmm. I see red shoes. The next word is long. Alright... I see some long red shoes." (As my eyes are closed, I am acting out what I am saying- long will be acted out with my hands, etc.) "The next word is floppy... hmmm... I can see some long, red, floppy shoes. The next word is laced.... hmmm... Okay, I visualize that my long, red, floppy shoes have laces..." (wait time) "Let me think... who might wear those shoes?" (wait time) "I think a clown might wear those shoes!" (wait time) "Do you agree?"
(Students will nod and agree.)
"Alright! Do you see how I visualized and pictured the adjectives in my mind?" (wait time) "That helped me to see who the shoes might belong to!"
We do: "Now, I want you to close your eyes and visualize. I am going to give you a list of adjectives and see if you can decide who the shoes might belong to! So, close your eyes." (wait time) "Here are my words..." (wait time) "pink..." (wait time) "flat..." (wait time) "soft but hard at the end" (longer wait time) "elegant" (wait time) "ribbon-tied" (long wait time for about ten seconds)... "Now... open your eyes... Can anyone tell me who you think these shoes might belong to?" Students should guess a dancer or a ballerina.
"Great job! Now, you are ready to do this on your own. Except, now, I am going to let you choose the words!"
Guided You do: "Right now, I am going to give you a person and you are going to describe their shoes. Then, I will draw the shoes according to your adjectives!" (wait time) "Here is the trick- if you are going to describe the shoes, you must tell me your adjective in a complete sentence." (wait time) "We are going to describe the shoes of a cowboy!....... Let me give you an example. I know that cowboys wear spurs on the backs of their boots, so I might think of the adjective spiky, to describe the spur part... So, my sentence would be, the spur part of the boots is spiky." (wait time) "Did you see how I did that?" (wait time) "Now, think of some adjectives that YOU can use to describe cowboy's shoes." (about ten seconds of wait time)
Here, I will take four students' adjectives and write them around the edge of our chart paper. After that, I will draw the boots, according to the adjectives (if a student says "Their color is red," then my boots will be red). I like to do this because it shows students that the words they use affect the outcome, which in this case is the illustration. I allow students to give ideas as to how they adjectives did or did not help me create a good picture!
"Now, I want you to think about some adjectives you might use to describe a football player's shoes. Feel free to talk to your friends about it; but make sure you are speaking in complete sentences!"
(wait time) "Let me give you one more example. I know that football players have cleats on the bottoms of their shoes, so I might think of the adjective pointy, to describe the bottom of the cleats... So, my sentence would be, the bottoms of the cleats are pointy." (wait time) "Did you see how I did that?" (wait time) "Now, think of some adjectives that YOU can use to describe a football player's shoes."
After two or three minutes, I call students back to the whole group and I mention some good complete sentences that I heard. I encourage students to use their own ideas and to try to come up with at least one new word that other students did not use. Then, I send them back to their seats!
Students will have about ten minutes to create their own pair of football player's shoes. They will label the pair of shoes with four adjectives. Then, they will write a couple of sentences based on their adjective choices. After that, they will color and/or draw on their shoes to show me how their adjectives changed the pair or shoes. This is completely independent work, so I will simply be circulating and providing academic feedback at this time.
The way I assess this task is by completing a follow-up assessment as morning work the day after this lesson. I will give students their own paper with a pair of cowboy boots on it. They will need to come up with adjectives, write some sentences and color their boots in accordance with their adjective choices. I will grade this piece of work. The reason that I didn't grade the football player's shoes page is because I feel that specific page had too much guidance from me and possibly from others. By giving and assessing this extra cowboy assignment, I can truly see what students remembered. Also, I can assess for higher-level vocabulary!
I love to see the following levels across of vocabulary in different pieces of work:
simple adjectives (brown)
good adjectives (hard, tall)
complex adjectives (leathery, beautiful)
When I assess this assignment, I will be looking for good adjectives and/or complex adjectives, complete sentences using the adjectives and an illustration mirroring the adjectives.
Here are some of the papers I graded!
Here, you will see a student who understood the general idea but will still need some help and/or reteaching. Here, this student did pretty well and indeed met the standard. Now, this student did very well and showed her vocabulary knowledge and another one where this student did a great job and mastered the skills covered. Here, this student showed mastery of the standard, but did not excel past my expectations and another one where this student did a great job of showing her knowledge. In the end, it was obvious that students succeeded with this assignment.
This lesson can be extended in so many ways!
I like to give students pictures of animal's feet and doing this same assignment. Students have to describe animal's feet with adjectives using complete sentences. I really like to even let each student have a different set of animal feet so they can read their adjectives to a partner or some partners- then the partner(s) can guess which animal the feet belong to, based on the adjectives only!
Students can practice using more adjectives with their writing, and also with their speaking.
Students can also identify adjectives when reading in small groups.
I really like to include practice with adjectives in my centers! One fun center that I like to have students complete in centers is one that sorts adjectives into categories. With this lesson, students sort and then go back and tell their partner how and why they sorted the way that they did (in a complete sentence). This further connects adjectives to speaking!