Skip to contentContribute to ReadWriteThink / RSS / FAQs / Site Demonstrations / Contact Us / About Us



Contribute to ReadWriteThink

ReadWriteThink couldn't publish all of this great content without literacy experts to write and review for us. If you've got lessons plans, videos, activities, or other ideas you'd like to contribute, we'd love to hear from you.



Professional Development

Find the latest in professional publications, learn new techniques and strategies, and find out how you can connect with other literacy professionals.



Did You Know?

Your students can save their work with Student Interactives.

More more

HomeClassroom ResourcesLesson Plans

Lesson Plan

Avalanche, Aztek, or Bravada? A Connotation Minilesson

E-mail / Share / Print This Page / Print All Materials (Note: Handouts must be printed separately)


Avalanche, Aztek, or Bravada? A Connotation Minilesson

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Minilesson
Estimated Time 50 minutes
Lesson Author

Traci Gardner

Traci Gardner

Blacksburg, Virginia


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



In designing a lesson to promote effective word choice in students' writing, the object is to start with something familiar. In this lesson, students start by discussing the associations they feel for car names from the 60s and 70s and analyze why those names were chosen. They then work in small groups on one of several possible activities, each exploring connotation in the context of car names.

back to top



Automobile Names Connotation Activities: This handout explains the choices for the culminating activity for the lesson.

What Does the Word Chicken Mean in these Titles?: This reproducible shows a variety of book covers featuring "chicken" in some way. This provides an excellent jumping off point for a discussion of connotation.

back to top



In designing an activity that encourages students to use language effectively, you need to begin with ideas and elements that are familiar to students. Cognitive psychologists who study information-processing capacities of the brain have identified the importance of the role of prior knowledge in learning. Researchers have found that the best way to spend time in studying new material is not necessarily to focus on the material itself; if we need certain information to understand it better, then we should devote more time to studying this prerequisite material. While this activity does not provide "knowledge" in the form of factual information, it does provide students a format through which to wrestle with concepts in familiar contexts before attempting the same activity in a less familiar context.

Further Reading

This lesson is adapted from Smagorinsky, Peter, Tom McCann, and Stephen Kern. 1987. Explorations: Introductory Activities for Literature and Composition, 7-12. 13-14. Urbana, IL: NCTE.

back to top