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Create Descriptive Word Lists for Special Needs Students

written by: Barbara • edited by: Sarah Malburg • updated: 1/6/2012

One of the biggest struggles for special education students is finding the right word for a written assignment, a presentation, or a typical conversation. Having a study guide of descriptive words can increase vocabulary and decrease a student's anxiety in finding the right word at the right time.

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    Smell and Taste

    Having a rich vocabulary to describe the world in ways that actively describe and define an event, a book, a scene, a conversation, a homework assignment, feedback on a book report, a food or a typical event in the classroom can create vivid imagery for the reader and the writer. By providing students with special needs a portable study guide of descriptive adjectives and adverbs that they can use on any assignment or in any student/teacher engagement, a teacher can go a long way in promoting reading, writing, math and behavioral skills for students who have typically been limited in vocabulary and word skills. The phrase "use your words" will take on new meaning with a study guide of descriptive words for any occasion or time.

    Smell and Taste

    • Sweet
    • Sour
    • Salty
    • Bitter
    • Bland
    • Citrus
    • Acidic
    • Alkaline
    • Nutty
    • Rancid
    • Spicy
    • Aromatic
    • Rotten
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    Size and Quantity

    Whether students are lost in a math or science class where size and quantities are interchangeable with common and truly abstract words, the outcome is the same; disengaged students disconnected from the learning. Try on this descriptive word study guide for size and quantity to help students increase their vocabulary and academic outcome in the classroom. Better yet, create a lesson using the list and have students separate words that mean size from those that mean quantity and create descriptive sentences.

    Size and Quantity

    • Small
    • Large
    • Tiny
    • Gram
    • Huge
    • Mammoth
    • Voluminous
    • Empty
    • Liberal
    • Scarcity
    • Gigantic
    • Petite
    • Microscopic
    • Vast
    • Paucity
    • Cellular
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    Behavioral States in the Classroom

    When students act out in the classroom, teachers are at a loss to describe the behavior that may disrupt the classroom or result in exclusion from the learning environment. By helping students find words that describe their behavioral states in a more acceptable and proactive way, teachers can increase expected on task behavior for them academically and behaviorally during most of the class period rather than limited timeframes within a learning block.

    Behavioral States in the Classroom

    • Desperate
    • Depressed
    • Marginalized
    • Excluded
    • Humiliated
    • Alienated
    • Despondent
    • Agitated
    • Overwhelmed
    • Dreaded
    • Apprehensive
    • Impaired
    • Intimidated
    • Uncomfortable
    • Distrustful
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    Helping students find the right words can create shared meaning in the classroom will promote a dynamic learning environment for both students and teachers. You can create descriptive word lists for word walls in the classroom that will grow a student's vocabulary, reading and writing skills exponentially on a daily basis.