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Lesson Plan

Identifying and Classifying Verbs in Context

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Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Minilesson
Estimated Time 60 minutes
Lesson Author

Ellen Woolfolk

New York, New York


International Literacy Association


Student Objectives

Introduction to Skill

Demonstration of Skill

Cooperative Application of Skill

Individual Application of Skill

Close and Assessment

Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • Be able to identify action verbs, state-of-being or linking verbs, and helping verbs

  • Express their understanding of verbs by participating in an interactive read-aloud in response to the text Kites Sail High: A Book About Verbs by Ruth Heller

  • Develop an awareness for the use of verbs in context by collecting sentences from authentic texts

  • Apply the skills that they have learned by working in cooperative groups and individually

  • Use the Internet as a source for reinforcing concepts learned about verbs

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Introduction to Skill

Aim: What is a verb? What are the different kinds of verbs? What is the verb's role in a sentence?

1. Assess what students already know about verbs by asking them if they know what a verb is. Explain the importance of verbs in a sentence and the skills students will be learning in this lesson (i.e., the ability to identify action, state-of-being, and helping verbs).

2. Write the aim questions on the chalkboard and explain to students that the lesson will focus on answering these questions.

3. Conduct a whole-class interactive read-aloud of Kites Sail High: A Book About Verbs by Ruth Heller. This strategy involves reading the text aloud and posing questions during the reading to involve the entire class in the learning process. Use the guided questions that you prepared in advance of the lesson to stimulate a class discussion. By responding to your guided questions, students are able to share their knowledge with one another. They can also begin to develop answers to the aim questions.

4. As you are reading, you are also thinking aloud, allowing students to share in your thought process. Highlight the role of the verb in a sentence. In this text, verbs are printed in bold type, thus making it easier to identify and classify them. Focus specifically on the sections that deal with action, state-of-being, and helping verbs.

5. Continue to ask and accept questions from students during and after the interactive read-aloud. This will enable you to conduct ongoing assessment of their comprehension.

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Demonstration of Skill

1. Display a few of your collected sentences showing examples of action verbs, state-of being or linking verbs, and helping verbs. These sentences were prepared in advance of the lesson on chart paper or an overhead transparency (see Preparation, step 4).

2. Explain where you found these sentences and why you chose them. Point out the different kinds of verbs in the sentences you collected.

3. Encourage students to start collecting sentences from magazines, comics, newspapers, ads, headlines, etc. Students can gather their collected sentences in their writing notebooks or folders.

4. Refer to the examples of action, state-of being, and helping verbs in Ruth Heller's book. Summarize for students how to identify these verbs in a sentence.

5. Ask and accept questions about the different kinds of verbs that you have been examining in this lesson. This will enable you to conduct ongoing assessment of students' comprehension.

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Cooperative Application of Skill

1. Distribute the worksheet that you prepared in advance of the lesson with collected sentences showing action, state-of-being, and helping verbs (see Preparation, step 4).

2. Ask students to work in pairs to identify and circle the verb in each sentence. Ask them to also classify the kind of verb in each sentence, and encourage them to discuss their reasoning with their partner.

3. Gather students together to discuss the worksheet and explain how they identified and classified the verb in each sentence.

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Individual Application of Skill

Allow students time to access the Wide World of Verbs website. On this site, they can learn more about action verbs, state-of-being verbs, and helping verbs. Have them read the story for each kind of verb and also take the verb test.

Note: To further extend individual application of the skill, have students use their own collected sentences to practice identifying and classifying verbs. This activity provides an authentic context for the use of verbs in sentences. Make sure to also provide students an opportunity to share their sentences and verbs with the class to reinforce learning.

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Close and Assessment

Ask students to summarize what they have learned during the lesson. In addition, ask them higher-order thinking questions to assess their understanding of verbs. (Studies have shown that teachers ask more recall or knowledge questions than any other type of question. More higher-order thinking questions need to be asked. Types of Questions Based on Bloom's Taxonomy may be helpful in developing these questions.) A few examples include:

  • What does a verb do in a sentence? (knowledge)

  • What are the different types of verbs? (knowledge)

  • How can you distinguish between an action verb and a state-of-being verb? (comprehension)

  • How will you use what you have learned in this lesson to write better sentences? (application)

Refer back to the aim questions and determine whether students are able to answer them.

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  • Throughout this lesson, observe students during class discussions, group work, and individual applications. Are students actively participating in the interactive read-aloud? Are they able to express their understanding of verbs? Can they identify and classify the verbs in the collected sentences? Are they able to answer the lesson's aim questions?

  • Assess the completed worksheets to ensure that students are able to identify and classify the verbs in the collected sentences. Evaluate also their ability to explain their rationale to the class, which indicates their understanding of the concepts and whether further instruction or practice is needed.

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