ReadWriteThink couldn't publish all of this great content without literacy experts to write and review for us. If you've got lessons plans, activities, or other ideas you'd like to contribute, we'd love to hear from you.
Find the latest in professional publications, learn new techniques and strategies, and find out how you can connect with other literacy professionals.
Teacher Resources by Grade
|1st - 2nd||3rd - 4th|
|5th - 6th||7th - 8th|
|9th - 10th||11th - 12th|
Choose, Select, Opt, or Settle: Exploring Word Choice in Poetry
|Grades||9 – 12|
|Estimated Time||Four 50-minute sessions, plus time for student projects|
Students are prompted to challenge their notion of synonyms being words that "mean the same" by investigating key words in Robert Frost's poem "Choose Something Like a Star." First they build an understanding of connotation and register by categorizing synonyms for the title word choose. Then they develop lists of synonyms for words of their choice elsewhere in the poem and collaborate on a full analysis, focusing on the relationship between word choice and the elements of speaker, subject, and tone.
Word Matrix: This interactive allows students to explore the similarities and differences among words typically considered synonyms.
In "Register and Charge: Using Synonym Maps to Explore Connotation," Darren Crovitz and Jessica A. Miller argue that students' typical understanding of the word synonym as meaning "'a word that means the same as another word'" is "at best an oversimplification and at worst a way to end thinking about what words actually signify" (49). They advocate for investigations into language and word groups to allow students to discover that "the subtlety of just how and to what extent [words are] similar makes all the difference when it comes to choosing the best word for a given purpose" (49). This lesson encourages students to explore the subtleties of shifting connotation and meaning effected by word choice.
Crovitz, Darren, and Jessica A. Miller. "Register and Charge: Using Synonym Maps to Explore Connotation." English Journal 97:4. (March 2008): 49-55.