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To make sure that students understand what verbs are, have them make Verb ABC charts in groups. Have each group write the ABCs along one side of a piece of poster board and brainstorm at least one verb that begins with the appropriate letter to write on each line. Have them share their creations with the class, and check the verbs on each chart to make sure that your students have listed only verbs. Clarify any confusion about the differences between verbs and other types of speech.
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Using Precise Verbs
Explain to students that verbs can make your writing stronger – if you use precise verbs. Write the sentence “I walked down the street" on the board. Ask students to identify the verb in the sentence (walked), and circle it as they do so. Then have them come up with other verbs that could take the place of the word walked and give more information about how the person walked. (They should be using verbs, not adverbs, to do this.) Make a list of such verbs, including “sauntered," “scurried," tiptoed," “swaggered," and “stomped." Ask students to explain why each word is more precise than “walked" and what it adds to the sentence. Then have students look through their own writing and try to replace vague words with more precise words. Encourage them to share their replacements with the class.
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Down With Linking Verbs!
Explain to students that although linking verbs are often necessary, they can be cumbersome and vague in writing. Ask students to identify several linking verbs, such as am, is, was, were, and are. Then write the sentences “She was happy. She strolled down the street." on the board. Show students that you can combine the sentences and avoid using the linking verb (was) by writing “She strolled happily down the street." Emphasize that there are several other ways to avoid using a linking verb like this one. Write the sentence “A smile spread across her face and her heart sang as she strolled down the street" and ask students to identify how you replaced the linking verb. Then have students go through their own essays and remove as many linking verbs as they can.
This verb lesson plan should help your students understand how to use verbs effectively. Make sure to review the points you have made in this lesson plan periodically so that your students can apply them to their writing.
- Author is a curriculum writer.