Friday, December 12, 2008

Word Choice, taken from R.Culham

Getting a Mind Set:

"Choose just the right word, and a simple image creates a world of meaning - and feeling."

"Pretend that you're holding a yellow marker in your hand, and imagine that you are going to highlight each word or phrase within a student's paper that strikes you or captures your attention ..."

Word Choice - Phrasing and Terminology
  • Clear, aids readers' understanding
  • Original, memorable
  • Concise
  • Natural
  • Filled with strong verbs
  • No modifier "overload"
  • Paints word pictures
Books to teach word choice:

At One in a place called Maine, by Lynn Plourde

The Dump Man's Treasures, by Lynn Plourde

Is There Really a Human Race? by Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell

The Prince's Diary, by Renee Ting

Wild Child, by Lynne Plourde

Santa Responds ... He's had enough.. and he's writing back! by Santa Claus

Welcome Comfort by Particia Polacco

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Challenge of Word Choice - 3 and up - taken from R. Culhan

Donna Labbe and Nancy Anctil demonstrate a "hook" with examples from good children's literature and lead a class discussion on what causes a reader to be "hooked" and drawn into a story.

Voice and word choice are both contributing factors.

The challenge is how to teach these skills to developing writers.

" A touch of class, a flash of elegance can make a difference between unremarkable clarity and thought so elegantly shaped that it not only fixes itself in the mind of our readers forever, but gives them a moment of pleasure when they recall it." by Joseph M. Williams

And here is our dilemma - the tight connection between word choice and voice:)

Word choice is ...about the use of rich, colorful, precise language that communicates not just in a functional way, but also in a way that moves and enlightens the reader... In good descriptive writing, strong word choice clarifies and expands ideas. In persuasive writing, it moves you to a new vision of things. In narrative writing, it creates images in your mind that are so real, you feel like you are part of the story itself.

As students learn the lingo, steer them away from exceptional, impressive vocabulary, and toward the skill to use everyday words well.

As we move to trait 4, lets reflect on how we can incorporate some work on word choice in lessons on voice. Let's consider what the role of read alouds play in this process.

Word Choice, taken from R.Culham

Word Choice: A Definition for Primary Students

When we explore word choice in the classroom, we focus on the parts of speech that writers use to convey meaning - the nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, contractions, gerunds, and s on. These terms may conjure up chilling moments from high school English class, but word choice is not about grammar. It's about selection words carefully to craft fluent sentences and create a lasting image in the reader's mind. We know that primary students are well on their way to making wise word choices when they:
  • play with letters to make words.
  • attempt to write words they have heard.
  • try new ways of saying things.
  • express an interest in the role of different kinds of words (nouns, verbs, adjectives, and so on).
  • develop a curiosity about language.
  • use the perfect word in the perfect place.
  • try sensory words.
  • use language with precision.
"Artists develop a love for the feel of their tools, the smell and texture of clay, wood or paint...Writers love words. And while some writers get excited over a particular pen or a more powerful word processing program, words remain the most important tool the writer has to work with." by Ralph Fletcher

As we move on to trait 4, let's think about how we can use our read alouds to assist our primary students with word choice. Let's also reflect on the poetry we are using on a regular basis and see if we can find any connections.


Tammy Deering works with 4th graders as she shares examples of voice. Excerpts came from:
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch, Kensuke's Kingdom by Michael Marpurgo, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo, and Oliver and athe Oil Spill by Anna Chandrasekhar. Students were enthralled as their teacher read these texts and discussed how students felt and why. Tammy followed up the class discussion with the use of the four square graphic organizer.

For Further information you can contact Tammy at: