Subject:
English Language Arts, Composition and Rhetoric
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Level:
High School
Grade:
12
Provider:
Pearson
Tags:
Grade 12 ELA, Informational Texts, Writing
License:
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0
Language:
English

Descriptive Language

Descriptive Language

Overview

In this lesson, students will identify and practice using active verbs and strong, descriptive language as they work to show rather than tell their reader about the important conflicts of their narrative. Students will then begin working on a first draft.

Preparation

  • Read the lesson and student content.
  • Anticipate student difficulties and identify the differentiation options you will choose for working with your students.

One Thing

  • Encourage your students to think of possible conflicts they could highlight, moments they could describe, and reflections they could make.
  • Comment on the possibilities for expanding the moments they mention into longer narratives.
  • Comment on choices students have made that may lend themselves to vivid writing: specific moments that can pull readers in with descriptive language and active verbs.
    • ELL: Be sure that all students understand what is meant by descriptive language and active verbs by asking students to come up with examples and then providing some yourself if needed.
  • If students are vague in their “show this by…” statements, brainstorm together ways that they can get more specific. For example, “I intend to show this by writing about how Okonkwo loves his family” can turn into, “I intend to describe Okonkwo’s fear at the moment when Ezinne was taken by Chielo.”
  • Try to hear several responses, and try to vary the characters you hear from; but put more emphasis on figuring out how students can use specific moments to show various qualities of their characters.

Opening

Complete the following sentence.

  • One thing I want my readers to understand about [my character] is __, and I intend to show this by __.

Open Notebook

Share your responses with your classmates.

Active Verbs and Descriptive Language

  • Review Active Verbs and Descriptive Language with your students.
  • Analyze “The Aviator” as a class, using the annotation protocols provided.

Work Time

Writers are often encouraged to “show, don’t tell” their audiences the conflicts, emotions, and lessons in their work. There are many ways to use language to accomplish this goal.

Take some time to review Active Verbs and Descriptive Language with your teacher.

Then, analyze the college essay, “The Aviator,” using these annotation protocols.

  • Underline uses of the verb “to be” and consider if there is a stronger way to convey the same meaning.
  • Indicate examples of active verbs.
  • Indicate examples of descriptive language.
  • Mark the end of each sentence with slashes (/). Look at the sentence length, is it varied? What thoughts or ideas are emphasized due to sentences that “pop” or stand out? What kind of mood does the sentence structure create?
  • Write a note explaining what you think the message of this essay is.

College Admissions Essays

  • This is another chance for students to practice Independent Reading. Remind them that later in the year, they will work with one longer piece and will stay with the same group for an entire unit.
    • SWD: Be sure that all SWDs are engaging in the Independent Reading successfully. If you find that some students need support, consider grouping those that need extra help and work with them as a way of supporting them.

Work Time

Today, as in Lesson 3, you will have the opportunity to choose the Independent Reading you would like to work with—at this point, one of the College Admissions Essays you read through for homework.

  • Look back through the essays you read, and choose which essay you would like to work with.

College Admissions Essay Analysis

  • There may be more than one group reading an essay, and there may be an essay that no one chooses. Do let students choose based on interest.
  • These essays will be used as models as students craft their Things Fall Apart drafts and then their own personal narratives.
  • After Independent Reading groups finish, take a few minutes to go over particularly strong examples of descriptive language and active verbs.
    • ELL: Pay close attention to ELLs as they share to be able to determine whether they were successful in finding examples. If possible, check their examples before they share.

Work Time

With your Independent Reading group, go through the college admissions essay you selected. Look for examples of active verbs and strong, descriptive language; what do these examples show you about what the writer is trying to communicate?

  • Underline uses of the verb “to be” and consider if there is a stronger way to convey the same meaning.
  • Indicate examples of active verbs.
  • Indicate examples of descriptive language.
  • Mark the end of each sentence with slashes (/). Look at the sentence length: is it varied? What thoughts or ideas are emphasized due to sentences that “pop” or stand out? What kind of mood does the sentence structure create?
  • Write a note explaining what you think the message of this essay is.

Then, share what you see as the strongest examples of descriptive language and active verbs with your classmates. What do you notice about the examples your classmates shared?

Your Character Narrative

  • Encourage students to just write—this is an early part of the drafting process, and they will have time in future lessons to work on structure, introductions, and conclusions.
  • Use this Work Time to have conferences with students you feel may need additional support.

Work Time

Now, think about Your Character Narrative.

  • Draft a section of Your Character Narrative. (This does not need to be the introduction; it could be a section from the middle of the narrative.) Try to use descriptive language and strong, active verbs.

Open Notebook

Gallery: Planning Options

  • Help students use the Planning Option forms if necessary.

Work Time

Descriptive Language and Active Verbs

  • Take the time to comment on several examples of the students’ work.

Closing

Looking through what you wrote, mark your most descriptive language and your strongest active verbs.

  • Share your favorite phrase or sentence from your draft.

Your Character Narrative

  • Monitor students’ progress over the next few days so that you can provide support or suggestions as needed if students fall behind.

Homework

In the next lesson, you will revise the introduction and conclusion of your narrative.

  • Make sure you have completed the Planning Options and have finished a rough draft of your narrative before then.

Gallery: Planning Options

  • Help students use the Planning Option forms if necessary.

Homework