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Exploring Descriptive Language with Different Parts of Speech

This Lesson at a Glance:
Grade Level(s): 5-8
Download Link: Student Handout

Lesson Objective:

Students gain experience writing, choosing appropriate language, and understanding parts of speech. Students learn that words have multiple functions when used in different contexts. Through these exercises, students gain practice in writing, and learn how word choice can affect both meaning and intent.

Instructional Objective:

Understanding parts of speech


Visual Thesaurus and Student Handout

Pictures from magazines or books for essay inspiration (optional)

Instructional Plan:

Students are asked to perform four major tasks:
  1. Free write in response to a picture or scene;
  2. Identify parts of speech (noun, verb, adjective, adverb) from their own writing;
  3. Explore new vocabulary;
  4. Compose a story about the picture or scene employing the new vocabulary. As a challenge, you may ask them to write in a specific genre or style.


Individual: Lesson as given; "Challenge" section can be assigned or omitted based on level of students or time frame (In this lesson Part 2 (Next Steps) and Part 3 (Challenge) are very similar. You may want to assign only one of these to students).

Small Group: Group of students work on same picture, collaborate on descriptions, then team write a story using the picture.

Whole class: Similar to Small Group only whole class works from a picture or scene supplied by teacher. Students can "chain write" the story or write short stories individually, then turn in for evaluation or to share in groups.

ESL/LEP: The lesson as given is appropriate with some modifications: in step (4), students can add to the lists they?ve created rather than ?exploring relationships? and for each new word, VT definitions should be written down, then students can construct either individual sentences or create a story.

Educational Standards

Level III, grades 6-8


General skills and strategies of the writing process (S.1), including prewriting strategies such as outlining and brainstorming (S. 1.1), evaluation of own and other?s writing (S. 1.4), writing narrative accounts (S. 1.7) and writing in response to literature or ideas with the ability to state a reflective opinion (S. 1. 12)

Use of descriptive and figurative language, including thesaurus use for effective word choice (S. 2, 2.1)

Use of grammatical and mechanical conventions in written compositions, including use of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs to convey different meanings (S. 3, S. 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6)

Use of age-appropriate spelling, capitalization, and punctuation (S. 3.9, 3.10, 3.11, at teacher?s discretion)


Uses the general skills and strategies of the reading process (S. 5), including using a variety of strategies to extend vocabulary, improve understanding of definitions, and compare and verify words meanings, shades of meaning, and word differences in context (S. 5.3)


Note 1: The standards used in these lessons follow the McREL guidelines, concentrating on grades 6-8, primarily in the Language Arts (writing, reading, listening, and speaking). Abbreviated Standards are listed here.

Note 2: The ESL variations given are most suitable for intermediate and advanced learners.

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