Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Adjective Attack: Descriptive Language Idea

I'd like to share a 3-5 minute tactic that allows your students to describe something you've just read or looked at. This idea is wonderful for developing vocabulary and practicing descriptive language.  It's called Adjective Attack.  Here's how it works.

My class is currently reading James and Giant Peach by Roald Dahl.  We were looking at the pictures in the book together and wondering out loud what could be going on in this part of the book.  A picture walk through is a great pre-reading tactic to promote inferring, and as a way to activate schema (read this post for more information about schema). We came upon a picture of a tunnel that leads to the peach pit. The picture shows peach juice dripping and oozing through the inside of the tunnel.  I thought this picture would serve as a perfect place to have my students practice Adjective Attack. Roald Dahl is well known for his descriptive language, so I wanted my students to have a go at descriptive language too.

I asked my students to think about 2-3 adjectives that would best describe the tunnel. I gave them some think time, and then ask them to pair up with a neighbor. Once everyone has a partner, they share their ideas with each other. By the way, this pairing idea is called, "Think-Pair-Share".

I briskly walk around each group as they share, listening for great adjectives. Sometimes I don't hear adjectives, but other parts of speech. I don't correct that student on the spot, because I want to make sure I get to every pair before they finish sharing, but I will come back to address the miscue later.

Once every partnership is done sharing their adjectives with their partner, I pull sticks to have students share their ideas with the class (see this post for more on using craft sticks).  When the sharing is done,  I do the correcting of the mistaken part of speech that I heard minutes earlier. I don't point anybody out, I simply say, "As I was walking around I heard ___. That word was actually a noun, a great noun to be sure, but not an adjective."

This idea could be customized to fit any skill you wish your students to practice, just change the name. Here are just a few ideas:
  • Other parts of speech
  • Pronouns
  • Affixes
  • Transition words
  • Story beginnings (leads)
I hope you'll get to use this idea in your classroom soon!

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