Our fifth grade students were preparing for their state writing test, so I taught a few mini-lessons to give them some ways to spice up their writing. Our writing teacher does all the prep work for students, but I collaborated with her to see the areas students still needed help with. Since I teach reading, it was nice to teach something different!
In this lesson, I taught students about how to add some sizzle to their dialogue by using other words in place of the word "said". I've noticed students tend to overuse the word when writing dialogue. He said. She said. They said. You get the idea. It gets overused!
Here's what we did:
To introduce the lesson, I read the book The Boy Who Cried Fabulous. It's a great story about a boy who constantly uses the word fabulous to describe everything he sees and experiences. His parents ban him from saying the word and by the end of the story he comes up with synonyms for fabulous. It's a great way to introduce how words can be overused, especially the word "said" when writing dialogue.
After reading the book, students broke up into small groups to brainstorm different ways they could replace the word "said" in their writing. They jotted their ideas in their reading notebooks. I gave the groups 5 minutes.
Students then gathered in our mini-lesson to share their ideas while I wrote the new words for "said" on chart paper. We created quite a list! We ended up having enough words for two chart sheets! Students can add words to their list in their notebook.
After we looked at the list, we talked about how tag lines can be at the beginning of the dialogue or at the end. For example: Stella whispered, "Shhh, it's a surprise." or " Shhh, it's a suprise," Stella whispered.
Add an Adverb
To add even more sizzle, students can add an adverb to show how the dialogue is being said. For example, Stella whispered quietly, "Shhh, it's a surprise."
Practice and Share
Students then chose a new word for "said" to write a dialogue example. They jotted their examples in their reader's notebooks. Students shared their new spiced up dialogue with classmates.
I hope this helps your students add sizzle to their writing!