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Details & Specificity

Details and Specificity To teach students to use specific details instead of the clichés and dead words that they have eliminated from their repertoires; to get students in the habit of looking at their world with an analytical eye; to encourage original thought and close observation. Optional Free Write Topic: List as many dead words as you can.

Growing a Sentence This activity demonstrates how details and description are necessary in good writing.


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Step One: Write a simple sentence like “Her boyfriend gave her a kiss” on a series of

note cards, one word per note card. Stick the cards to a blackboard with magnets or lay them out on a table or floor where the students can gather around and see.

Step Two: Ask students what, exactly, they know about this couple from this sentence. How old is this couple? What do they act like? How was the kiss? Establish that we can’t tell any of this from the vague sentence. How boring.

Step Three: Tell students that we are going to revise this sentence through adding detail and being specific. (Define these terms, too—you’d be amazed how many kids have heard these words but have no idea what they actually mean!) Unveil a vast selection of prepared note cards with unusual modifiers on them, like these: • Sloppy • Motorcycle-riding • 8-foot-tall • Scratchy • Accordion-playing • Sweaty • Slow • Peckish • Sour • Flaming • Chocolate • Imaginary • Rotund • Smudgy • Fishy

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....