Word Level Choices for Stronger Development I. Use Concrete and Colorful Parts of Speech at Some nouns are general



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Word Level Choices for Stronger Development

I. Use Concrete and Colorful Parts of Speech

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Some nouns are general and give the reader an unclear, uninteresting picture or meaning. Other nouns are more specific and give the reader a more distinct, compelling picture or meaning. If you put a lens on significant nouns in your sentences, you can evaluate if you have chosen words that represent the exact people, places, things or ideas you want to communicate to your reader.



  1. Practice with General & Specific Nouns: Students can use a chart similar to the one below to practice identifying the differences between general and specific nouns. They can use this chart with their own drafts as they identify nouns that need more concrete precision. Peer discussion helps students discover more effective vocabulary. Guiding question: What is the most specific wording for this ____ (noun) that fits my meaning?

General

Specific

Generate another Related, Specific Noun

Generate another Related, Specific Noun

dessert

apple pie ala mode







people

senior citizens







clothes

Levi boot-cut jeans







school

Oceanside High School







you

students







success

financial prosperity







education

vocational nursing classes







General

Specific

Generate another Related, Specific Noun

Generate another Related, Specific Noun























































































  1. When Words Fail – Generating Nouns: Use “word → meaning” handouts to brainstorm more ways of seeing, feeling, understanding or refining significant nouns—word maps, word drawings, Google image searches, etc. (Please see attached GOs.)

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A. Vivid Verb Guidelines: These two basic suggestions can serve as lenses for evaluating verb choices. First, you can model examples of these guidelines within context. Then students can put these two lenses on their own sentences to identify verbs that can be improved.


Use verbs that show rather than tell.

Vague Verb: Some people leave school without a good education. Show Verb: Many students graduate high school without adequate preparation for college studies. Vague Verb: Students like being rewarded with good grades. Show Verb: Students depend on the positive feedback they receive from earning A’s and B’s.

Avoid overusing “be” verbs (is, are, was, were, etc.). Instead aim for direct subject-verb arrangements.

“Be verb”: The charity is doing a good job for the community. Direct Verb: the charity helps the community in significant ways.



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  1. Practice with General & Specific Verbs: Students can use a chart similar to the one below to practice identifying the differences between general (hazy) and specific (distinct) verbs. They can use with their own drafts to identify verbs that can be improved. Peer discussion about different verb choices helps build vocabulary. Guiding question: What ____ (verb) would most vividly convey my precise meaning for this sentence, paragraph, and essay?

General

Specific

Generate another Related, Specific Verb

Generate another Related, Specific Verb

looked

glared, examined







done

completed







said

claimed







had

experienced







needs

craves, requires







made up

imagined







General

Specific

Generate another Related, Specific Verb

Generate another Related, Specific Verb



























  1. When Words Fail – Generating Verbs: As with nouns, students often need to brainstorm words with their peers, in small groups or as a whole class. They can use “word → meaning” handouts to brainstorm more vivid ways of expressing action or states of being. (Please see attached GOs.)

at Adjectives & Adverbs

Some adjectives are general and give the reader a vague, repetitive description. Other adjectives are more specific and give the reader a more detailed, focused description. Each adjective you choose should make your nouns clearer and more interesting for the reader. Put a lens on words that you are using to modify your nouns.


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