K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • identify and review the various parts of speech
  • identify and review dialogue tags
  • identify and review transition words
  • transfer the use of vivid vocabulary to narrative writing

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

90 minutes


  • class set (can be done in groups with fewer books) of the book A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon
  • clipboards (7)
  • pencils
  • notebook paper (or vocabulary journal kept in writing folder)
  • write on the board the following: noun, verb, adjective, adverb, dialogue tag, transition word/s


The students should have knowledge of the various parts of speech. They should also know the various techniques for transitioning in narrative writing. Vivid vocabulary should be a topic that is always heavily emphasized during reading and writing.



  1. Teacher should state the objectives to be taught.
  2. Teacher reads aloud a very dry, non-descriptive, paragraph.
  3. Teacher reads aloud the same paragraph that has been enhanced with vivid vocabulary. (Utilize a sample paragraph from A Bad Case of Stripes.)
  4. Ask students to respond with comments comparing / contrasting the 2 paragraphs.


Read page one of the book. Ask the students to select what they would like you to hunt for using the list on the board of nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, dialogue tags, and transition words.

Guided Practice

Read aloud the story with great expression. To review the elements to be identified ask the following questions:

  • As I read the first page of text listen for any nouns. Ask for an example from the students to verify understanding.
  • As I read page 2 of the text listen for any verbs. Ask students for an example to verify understanding.
  • As I read page 8 of the text listen for any adjectives. Ask students to share an example to verify understanding.
  • As I read page 9 of the text listen for any adverbs. Ask students to share an example to verify understanding.
  • As I read page 12 of the text listen for any dialogue tags. Ask students to share an example to verify understanding.
  • As I read page 13 of the text listen for any transitions. Ask the students to share an example to verify understanding.

Independent Practice

  1. Divide students into 6 cooperative groups of four. Each group should have a recorder, clipboard, paper, pencil, and a set of books.
  2. Assign each group something to search for and record on the Vivid Vocabulary worksheet as they reread the book (nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.)
  3. As with any cooperative learning activity the teacher should be ‘on the move’ using this time to note individual student needs in each group.


Allow each group to share a portion of their findings. You may want to have each group switch searches after 10 minutes. Another option is to repeat this activity throughout the year utilizing whatever literature you are currently reading. This gives students opportunities to search for all types of vivid vocabulary. It also keeps the importance of vivid vocabulary at the forefront of their minds. This allows for a natural flow of the vocabulary into their writing.


Conferencing and observing as the teacher monitors the cooperative groups would be a natural assessment tool. Notes can be taken to add to the students’ writing assessment sheets. The teacher can check the written group notes fro accuracy.

Also as the students write their next narrative writing it will be apparent if the transfer (which is the most important skill!) has taken place.

Supplemental information


Due to limited vocabulary, many students are not able to make their writings come to life. The description and elaboration can make the difference between a 2/3 or a 3/4 score.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • Language

        • Grade 3
          • 3.L.5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships and nuances in word meanings. 3.L.5.1 Distinguish the literal and nonliteral meanings of words and phrases in context (e.g., take steps). 3.L.5.2 Identify real-life connections between...
          • 3.L.6 Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate conversational, general academic, and domain-specific words and phrases, including those that signal spatial and temporal relationships (e.g., After dinner that night we went looking for them).
        • Grade 4
          • 4.L.5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings. 4.L.5.1 Explain the meaning of simple similes and metaphors (e.g., as pretty as a picture) in context. 4.L.5.2 Recognize and explain the meaning of common...
          • 4.L.6 Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, including those that signal precise actions, emotions, or states of being (e.g., quizzed, whined, stammered) and that are basic to a particular topic...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 3

  • Goal 2: The learner will apply strategies and skills to comprehend text that is read, heard, and viewed.
    • Objective 2.04: Identify and interpret elements of fiction and nonfiction and support by referencing the text to determine the:
      • author's purpose.
      • plot.
      • conflict.
      • sequence.
      • resolution.
      • lesson and/or message.
      • main idea and supporting details.
      • cause and effect.
      • fact and opinion.
      • point of view (author and character).
      • author's use of figurative language (e.g., simile, metaphor, imagery).

Grade 4

  • Goal 3: The learner will make connections with text through the use of oral language, written language, and media and technology.
    • Objective 3.01: Respond to fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama using interpretive, critical, and evaluative processes by:
      • analyzing the impact of authors' word choice and context.
      • examining the reasons for characters' actions.
      • identifying and examining characters' motives.
      • considering a situation or problem from different characters' points of view.
      • analyzing differences among genres.
      • making inferences and drawing conclusions about characters, events and themes.