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Lesson Plan

She Did What? Revising for Connotation

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She Did What? Revising for Connotation

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



From Theory to Practice



Did she walk, skip, amble, dance? In this minilesson, students examine the simple sentence "She walked into the room." Volunteers act out ways that the student in the sentence might enter the room, and the teacher models revising the sample sentence accordingly. Students then suggest other replacements for the verb in the sentence to increase the specificity of the word and explore connotation. Students follow this demonstration by selecting words with powerful connotations for their own writing.

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To use language effectively, students need to begin with ideas and elements that are familiar to them. 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.

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