Word choice is one of the six writing traits students must incorporate and work on. One of the best ways to help students improve word choice and grow as writers is to surround them with quality writing. Books that model the specific writing skill or style we’re wanting our students to practice make the best mentor texts or exemplars. For this post, I chose to highlight one of Julia Cook’s books, My Mouth is a Volcano. Julia’s books are often metaphorical, and for this lesson, my focus will be on word choice.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Julia visited our school several years ago, and from that time, I’ve been a HUGE fan. She is a former guidance counselor, and she has spent her life writing books to address social skills, classroom guidance topics, emotional regulation, stressors children experience, and family dynamics. If you have a student struggling with something in life, you will find a book on the topic HERE.
MODELING WORD CHOICE:
From the start, you know this book is a metaphor. The cover illustrates how the child’s words just erupt from his mouth. The words spew all over because Louis has “a lot to say”. If he tries to hold them in, they rumble and grumble inside. On the right, you can see the list of words that are connected to the analogy, volcano. As you share the book, have students listen for and record related words gives purpose. You can print this page in “poster form” to create an anchor chart or project it and have students add their related words. Students use the hard copy as the book is shared.
IMPROVE WORD CHOICE IN YOUR WRITING:
Once you generate the list of volcano themed words, introduce the descriptive writing assignment to your class. I used the metaphor, “My mom is a gem,” as my example. I created a list of words related to jewels. My key words were gem, sparkle, and brilliant. I suggest introducing your students to thesauruses for this activity. Coming up with the initial metaphor poses the biggest challenge. I suggest you create a list to have on hand as a scaffold.
PLANNING AND WRITING with word choice in mind:
Step 1: Create a Four Square Plan:
Once your students have prepared their word lists, the planning and drafting won’t be a challenge. Students keep their word banks in front of them to create natural sentences to describe their topic. With writing, I use the Four Square model. There are two versions included in the lesson resource shared. I projected it as a model for my students. Hopefully, you see how I tied in the words from my list into the demo paragraphs.
step 2: Creating rough drafts
When you teach this lesson, use the example plan to model. However, when you begin drafting, demonstrate how you add sentences to each section to elaborate on the topic. With mentor text lessons, it’s important to return to the book for exemplars. As students work on their pieces, try to have copies of the book available for reference.
step 3: using this RESOURCE
This lesson includes the following pages:
- a prewriting volcano words page for use as you share the book orally
- an answer key
- a related words prewriting page and teacher example
- a planning page and example, and
- a drafting page
This resource can be downloaded any time using the email sign up form below. I send emails out a few times per month. I promise you won’t be bombarded. In fact, emails generally include links to other fun lessons. If you enjoy the lesson, I hope you will return to check out other mentor text lessons included on my site.
Other Writing Posts You Might Like:
- Developing Voice with Mentor Texts
- Six Traits Writing in the Primary Grades
- Writing with a Plan: Using the Four Square Writing Method
- Engaging Students in Thoughtfully Planned Mentor Text Lessons
Thank you for visiting, and for other fun writing lessons, check out the links below from my blogging friends in The Reading Crew.