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Dead Words

Dead Words Contributors: Tandy Versyp To identify lazy and vague language; to replace lazy language with specific, original thought.

LINK 4 Optional Free Write: Play the video provided at the link of comedian Eddie Izzard

talking about the word “awesome.” After it is over, have students write about what has happened to the word awesome. What is it supposed to mean, and what does it actually mean?

Story Time and the Dead Word Wall To begin today, tell your students some version of the following story (and don’t be afraid to be goofy and overdramatic with it—the more the students sympathize with the poor dead words, the more likely they will be to remember the lesson). CAUTION


Step One: The Origin of Dead Words Once upon a time, there was a race of beautiful words, as beautiful as fairy tale princesses in golden ball gowns. These words—words like love and amazing and awesome—were so gorgeous and important that people brought them out on only very special occasions. Because they were used only every once in a while, they were able to stay shining and new year-round. Whenever they appeared, everyone was so moved that they stopped and stared. But then, some people got lazy and said to themselves, “Well, if these words are so gorgeous and important, why don’t we use them all the time? Then everything will be more beautiful!” And so, rather than saving these words for special days, they started asking these words to come out every day. First, they asked the words to give political speeches all the time, and later they started asking them to answer phones at receptionist desks, and before you know it, they were making these words take out the garbage and pick up dog poop. The words, who were once so beautiful, became tired and old, and their clothes turned to rags. But still, the people weren’t satisfied. They kept demanding that the words be beautiful all the time, and when they couldn’t be, the people punched them in the face and told them to work harder. The more people used them, the more these words got beaten up and exhausted, until they finally just dropped dead. All their meaning was gone. But still, even after they died, people kept propping them up and trying to make them do work, hoping that they would be meaningful once more. Instead of doing any good, though, their corpses just flopped around and stunk up the place. To this day, when you use these words, it has the same effect on your writing as shoving a putrid, rotting body between your punctuation marks.

The Cure for IDK  

The Cure for IDK isn't a typical lesson book. It is frank, funny, and full of lessons that are simultaneously entertaining and challenging....