Whew! Students are often overwhelmed by all that goes into making their writing assignments exceptional: full topic development, complete ideas, an eye for organization, correct grammar, and more. As a result, attention spent on language use may be lacking and they may fall into a pattern of using basic, common words to quickly express their ideas.
What if you stopped and asked your students the following question: Would you rather decorate your bedroom with bland colors and dull decor or with bright colors and items that sparkle and shine? The majority of children will probably choose the latter. You could also pose a similar question about what kinds of writing they’d like to read.
Encourage your students to break out of the mold of dull word choices and add SPARKLE words to their writing. They may find that they enjoy writing (and you’ll enjoy reading) so much more!
Have Sparkle Words at Your Fingertips
When you read through student writing, you’re sure to see several words or phrases repeated throughout. Do any of these look familiar? “It was really fun.” “It was a good day.” “I thought it was a very cool idea.” Through vocabulary lessons, you know they’ve been exposed to better and brighter words.
Print our Choose a Sparkle Word sheet and ask your students to glue or tape it to the front of their writing journals or store it in their writing folders. They can keep it nearby to reference stronger word choices for their writing.
Highlight Word Choice Success
Recognizing your students’ efforts at making stronger word choices will only encourage them to make it a habit. Kristina Smekens, the founder of the Smekens Education Solutions, a reading & writing professional development organization for K-12 teachers, is well-known for using a purple highlighter to call out strong words that her students include in their assignments. Employ a similar strategy when marking your students’ work and they may begin to welcome a returned paper full of markings!
Build a Word Choice Hall of Fame
Emphasize the importance of sparkle words by taking it one step further. Create a helpful resource for the entire classroom with a Word Hall of Fame! Your class most likely has a Word Wall already but a Word Hall of Fame is the best of the best. Whenever you hear students use sparkle words in conversation, classroom discussion, or group activity, call them out! Have them write down their word with a brief description and add it to the wall.