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The Fourth Writing Trait

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1 The Fourth Writing Trait
Word Choice The Fourth Writing Trait

2 Word Choice A Definition: selection of appropriate words to fit audience, purpose and topic

3 Feeding Your Reader’s Brain
Lesson 13 You’ll learn about using sensory language to create vivid mental pictures.

4 Sensory Language Words or phrases that tickle the senses of touch, sight, taste, smell, and hearing And invite the reader right into the world your words create. Ask students to imagine themselves at Nancy O’s. Start with a flat description. “I had a great evening at Nancy O’s.” As a class, start creating a picture that appeals to all the senses. Brainstorm details from each category.

5 Town Early Author Barry Bauska seems to know this town well.
Be on the lookout for sensory words (sights, sounds, feelings, smells or tastes). Sensory details include what they see, hear, smell, taste and touch. Students may not find examples in EVERY category.

6 Town Early This is early morning. Not “farm early”: up an hour before dawn to break the ice in the stock watering troughs. Not that early. Just “town early,” with things coming slowly to life. The service station owner moves among his pumps, unlocking each in sequence, setting out the metal signs: Full-Service, Self-Serve, Pull Ahead to Forward Pump. He puts a small stack of oil cans precisely between two pumps. He surveys the ground in from of him, spies a handful of discarded lottery tickets and pull-tabs. He bends down to collect them, scans the numbers expertly for possible winners, then drops the tickets into the trash can… Somewhere in the distance a lawn mower clears its throat, nearly dies in the effort, then spurts to life. A freight train intones its way past the three or four street crossings it must negotiate. There is a crashing and banging as the cars brake to a stop, roll backwards a few yards, then clump together in a final, grinding statement.

7 Sensory Reaction Reread the passage with a pencil in your hand so that you can note any sensory details you notice. Then compare your notes to the chart below. Add details that are missing from the chart. Work with a partner, then check the list in the chart. I see I hear I touch I smell Discarded lottery tickets Metal signs Lawn mower Train Crashing, banging Grinding metal Lottery tickets Garbage cans Oil and gasoline Cut grass

8 Creating Your Own Chart
Here’s a passage from a piece of descriptive writing about a football game interrupted by a tornado. Read “The Tornado” carefully with your sensory radar net on full alert. Write down any words or phrases that you think are examples of sensory language on the chart: Students would work on their own, but share with a partner and the class. I see I hear I touch I smell

9 “The Tornado” Running down the field to the end zone, I could hear hard breathing and feel, just for a moment, the icy breath of everyone behind me. The quarterback had thrown a perfect pass, and no one was fast enough to catch me but myself. It was cool, the fog so thick you could eat it with a spoon. The tops of the wheat stalks in the neighboring field were frozen, and when the wind rattled them, it sounded like soft chimes. Touchdown! As I celebrated by tossing the ball into the air, we all looked up to see a dangerous-looking cloud formation. The wind was spinning around, molding the wispy puffs into something dreaded here in Iowa: a funnel cloud. We kept playing even after the icicle-like wheat was practically being uprooted by the wind. My team had scored nearly fifty points when the wind came whistling past my ears like an out-of-tune pipe organ. My friends stopped moving. The football rolled on the grass, and everyone turned to see what they knew was coming. The tornado was on the very doorstep of our field, and we ran, the mud sucking at our feet, and thin arrows of frozen wheat stinging our arms and necks.

10 Creating Your Own Chart
I see I hear I touch I smell Dangerous-looking cloud formation Running down the field to the end zone Fog so thick you could eat it with a spoon Frozen wheat stalks quarterback throwing perfect pass Hard breathing Wind uprooting wheat Touchdown! Soft, chimes of wind Wind whistling past ears like out of tune organ Wet, thick fog Mud sucking at your feet Frozen wheat is stinging skin icy breath behind Students work on their own, then share with a partner and the class. Discuss the impact of sensory details on the reader.

11 Your Turn to Write: Pre-Writing
Picture yourself in the middle of any outdoor activity on a particularly cold, hot or wet day. Prewriting: Make some notes – words and phrases – that will help shape your description: I see I hear I touch I smell Brainstorm a list of personal details that form basis of a descriptive paragraph. Complete the list quickly. Don’t try to fill each category, but write down what is most vivid and clear in your memory.

12 Your Turn to Write: Drafting
Put your most powerful sensory details together in a descriptive paragraph at least 6 sentences long. OR, write a short poem, if your prefer. Choose the BEST sensory details, not ALL of them. Share writing with small group and with the class as a whole.

13 Word Graphics Lesson14 You will use synonyms and antonyms to expand your understanding of a word.

14 Grandmother’s Pigeon Read and circle two or three words you find interesting. They might be words that are new to you Words you use in your own writing or speaking Words you’d like to know more about Wednesday, January 23

15 Grandmother’s Pigeon “It is impossible,” said the ornithologist, adjusting her glasses, “that in your kitchen you have raised three members of an extinct species, Ectopistese migratorius. These are passenger pigeons. Once upon a time, these birds were so abundant that they traveled in flocks that took three days to pass overhead, 300 million birds per hour. Their nesting colonies sometimes stretched forty miles long. They seemed limitless as leaves.” Her face took on the same grim and sadly surprised look that Grandmother’s pigeon usually wore. “The lesson they teach is this – nature is both tough and fragile. Greed destroyed them. They were killed for food by the millions, and their nesting trees were burned. The last known pigeon, whose name was Martha, died in 1914 in the Cincinnati Zoo. That is, the last pigeon that we knew about! When reality at last sinks in, I shall be in shock. I shall have to sit down. Perhaps I shall sit down now, before I fall over. Have you got any tea?”

16 The First Step: What Kind of Word Is It?
Add your words and your partner’s words to this chart. NOUNS VERBS ADJECTIVES ADVERBS flocks Ornithologist Pigeon Ectopistese migratorrus Virility Adjusting Shall Abundant Limitless Fragile grim Sadly

17 Building a Synonym Ladder
Synonyms: words that mean the same or almost the same thing ex: huge and tremendous Key Word: fragile Synonym 1: breakable Synonym 2: Synonym 3: Key Word: Synonym 1:

18 Middle Word: surviving
An Antonym Sequence antonyms:: opposites ex: extinct (no longer existing or living) and abundant (plentiful) Key Word: extinct Middle Word: surviving Antonym: abundant

19 Warm-Up Key Word: tiny Middle Word: Antonym:

20 You will replace flat, colourless language with specifics.
Specify to Clarify Lesson 15 You will replace flat, colourless language with specifics.

21 I’ll take a burger, please.

22 The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning-bug. Mark Twain

23 Lives of the Artists Copy any words or phrases that you feel are examples of specific, lively, or vivid language. Pick two words or phrases that you think are the most vivid or specific.

24 Lives of the Artists In others, Leonardo inspired devotion. He was strong, healthy, and handsome, with a carefully brushed and curled beard. His rose-coloured robes were short, unlike the long robes of most men, and he was always impeccably clean in an age when most people weren’t. He couldn’t even stand to have paint on his fingers. He carried himself like royalty and had elegant manners. Usually he was calm, though he was known to blush when he was insulted (as by his arch-rival, Michelangelo). A welcome addition to parties, he devised clever riddles that made people roar with laughter, and he liked to play pranks that would make people scream – once he unleashed what appeared to be a dragon (actually a large lizard). He rode horses well, sang well, played the lyre well, and, of course, could invent his own musical instruments when necessary.

25 Share and Compare Compare your notes with your seatmates, and see if they wrote the same things. Pick two words or phrases that you think are the most vivid or specific, and add them to this list. Leonardo da Vinci: Vivid Language impeccably clean Elegant manners Brought a large lizard to a party – sly Carefully brushed beard

26 A Short Warm Up Read each sentence and circle any nonspecific, flat language you find. Then, rewrite the sentences, replacing the language your circled with specific, vivid words and phrases Before: The dog went down the street, looking out for things. Revise: dog, went, street, looking out, things

27 Before: We had a good time at the party and did fun stuff
Before: We had a good time at the party and did fun stuff. After: Before: The flowers in the window were pretty and unusual. Before: The big tree moved in the wind as we looked at it.

28 Putting the Reader at the Scene
Write a short description of a friend or family member. Goal: use words and phrases that bring this person to life on paper. Make your description at least five sentences long

29 Lesson 16 You will cut clutter from wordy passages.
Cut the Clutter! Lesson 16 You will cut clutter from wordy passages.

30 Sharing an Example Extra words pile up clutter, which the read has to sift through to get to the main idea. Read to decide whether the writer used the right number of words or too many. Students will revise the piece. Students read the passage before beginning any revision and complete the survey. Students should work with a partner to eliminate any unnecessary language.

31 I walked down the aisle of the airplane, between the rows of seats, and found the seat that had been assigned to me when I checked in at the ticket counter. The plane was almost full – not totally full, but very close. There were many people on the plane, including men, women, older people, younger people, children, families, and people traveling alone. All kinds of people. I hoped that whoever was assigned to the seat next to the seat I was assigned would be a quiet person and not interested in talking the whole way to Oakland. I like it better when I could sit next to someone who didn’t like to talk instead of sitting next to people who always talked. If I could just read my book and listen to my music, I would be happy. Reading my book and listening to my music helped me to relax and not worry about flying. I get too nervous and worried about flying if I can’t read and listen to music, so it helps to sit near someone quiet.

32 My Thoughts How would you rate this piece of writing?
I’d say it’s about right – in fact, the writer could say even more about why it’s good to sit near a quiet person. It’s a bit wordy, but that helps the reader get the message. This is way too wordy – good grief, cut the clutter!

33 Work with a partner to read the passage again.
Reading the passage aloud may be helpful. Cut any unnecessary words, phrases, or sentences. Revise to make every word count! Feel free to change the wording slightly to make your final revision read smoothly. When your finished, read your revised version again to make sure that you cut everything that needed to go.

34 Let’s Compare Compare this revised paragraph with yours.
Does your paragraph look similar? Did you and your partner cut more unneccessary words? Fewer words? Students compare revisions with the suggested versions. Could more cuts be made without sacrificing meaning? Have students cut as much as possible without hurting the message.

35 I walked down the aisle of the airplane and say in my seat
I walked down the aisle of the airplane and say in my seat. The plane was almost filled with passengers of all ages. I hoped that whoever was sitting next to me would be a quiet person. If I could just read my book and listen to my music, I would be happ and relaxed. Otherwise, I’d be nervous about flying.

36 Share and Compare After a close looking, put down a check next to the sentence that best describes the comparisons. We cut even more. Ours is really short. We cut out about the same. We cut fewer words but still like our paragraph. We cut fewer words but decided next time we would cut more! Students complete the self-evaluation. Allow time for student pairs to discuss their evaluations

37 Cleaning Out the Clutter
As you read the example, cut unnecessary words. Then rewrite the paragraph in its cleaner, shorter form. Hint: Change the punctuation or structure of sentences so that your final revision reads smoothly. As revisers, students should ask themselves, “Do I need to be more ruthless when I revise for wordiness?”

38 When I woke up, I looked out the big front window that is on the front of our house. It’s a good, large window that’s great for looking out. Just as I had thought, and anticipated, it was raining, really raining hard. It was coming down fast, all right, making everything soaking wet. I guess I should have been happy and not sad, because today’s rain made it a record for something like thirty consecutive rainy days in a row for our area. Today was, I think, something like, around thirty-five days in a row where it had rained. Thirty-five days of rain is a lot of rain! The local news stations would be talking about this all day and send reporters who would force them out into different parts of town to film the rain for their reports about the rainy day record. There’s nothing to be happy about or celebrate or have a party for. This is winter. The news should be about why it hasn’t snowed this winter. Share revised paragraph with a partner. What kinds of changes did you each make? Was one shorter than the other? Was one stronger than the other? Discuss how you each decided what clutter to remove.

39 When I woke up, I looked out the big front window to see that it was raining for the thirty-fifth day in a row. It’s a record for our part of the country, so the news stations would be talking about it all day. This is nothing to celebrate. It’s winter! The news should be about why it hasn’t snowed.

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