Muscly Words and Wimpy Words

December 3, 2013

Hey all! I’m taking a break from stalking Teachers Pay Teachers’ huge sale to blog about my new go-to anchor chart for just about any subject.

During our first science unit (Life Cycles), my teaching partner and I noticed that our students were lacking the skills to be descriptive when they were observing…well, anything! We worked on an anchor chart that helps them remember what kinds of words are “muscly” and what ones are “wimpy.” In other words, what words help someone see what you are describing, and which ones leave a lot for the reader to “fill in the blanks.”

First, I read this out loud to them and asked them to draw what they pictured in their minds on one half of their paper:

Mrs. Falkowski got flowers from her husband. They are pretty. They smell nice. They are awesome. They came in a vase. She likes them.

And I got pictures like this:

Each one was VERY different…and yes, that’s a bee on the bottom in the middle. Who said anything about a bee?? Anyway…

Then, I read this to them and asked the to draw what they pictures on the other side of the paper:

Mrs. Falkowski got flowers from her husband. There were 5 roses. Each rose was scarlet red and had layers of petals. The petals were very smooth and soft. The stems were dark green and had spiky thorns on them. They came in a clear, round, glass vase. The vase was about half full of water.

And here is what the pictures looked like:

When we compared our pictures the second time, one thing was evident: the more descriptive passage definitely helped us all form a similar picture in our heads!

As a class we talked about what words helped us create this picture. They highlighted the words they thought were most helpful and then we compiled a list. They thought these were the most helpful:

scarlet red
5 roses
dark green stems
spiky thorns
clear, round, glass vase
half full of water
Once we knew what words were helpful, we could create our chart to help us remember what kind of words are muscly and which ones are wimpy:

Even though we started this anchor chart to help us write more descriptive observations in science, it has been a big help in all subjects – even math! They use it quite a bit and “muscly words” is one of the first things they remember to add when we are talking about what makes a good piece of writing. 🙂 Win!

Ok, NOW you can get back to shopping and saving!

Check out my newest product if you have some extra room in your cart – a fun set of Christmas task cards to practice restating the question in constructed response answers! You can also hop over to my Facebook page – and play a little game to win yourself a copy. 🙂

Happy shopping!

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